Sam Smith has made a huge comeback with his sophomore album The Thrill of It All, and it is full of dark, soulful crooning. Three years have passed since Smith’s debut In the Lonely Hour, which received three Grammy awards. His smash hits,“Stay With Me” and “I’m Not The Only One” received a lot of radio play, and were perfectly written pop songs. It was a tale of self-identity and love. Accompanying his album release in 2014 Smith came out publicly as gay, not wanting his sexuality to be a rumor. In the Lonely Hour he told a heartbreaking story of unrequited love, a gay man longing for a straight friend.
The Thrill of It All begins with piano ushering in gospel-influenced “Too Good at Goodbyes.” A song that demonstrates his emotional falsetto, and is so catchy you will find yourself playing the first track of the album on repeat. “Say It First” is a soft song with echoing guitars and tight rhythms. “One Last Song” has a 50s doo-wop hum that ups the tempo of the album, taking it to new soulful places. “Midnight Train” is a refreshing new sound for Smith with a dreamy electronic vibe like a Beach House record. “Burning” displays Smith’s development as a more versatile singer since In the Lonely Hour. In the song, he displays his beautiful deep gospel voice while struggling with coming to terms with a breakup. He sings “Oh, have you ever called/ I will burst straight back/Give you my forgiveness/And the shirt off my back.”
“HIM” mentions a gay man walking hand in hand with his lover in Mississippi. Singing to a “Holy Father,” that he’s “not the boy that you thought you wanted,” this song represents Smith’s more serious tones of this album. “Baby, You Make Me Crazy” has an upbeat, soulful flavor and carries the album into its final tracks. “No Peace” (featuring YEBBA) is the only featured appearance on the album, the Arkansas native, now Harlem-based-singer Yebba is a promising new star. “Palace” is one of the weaker tracks on the album, not seeming to present the musical talents or emotions that Smith exhibits on other tracks. The last track is “Pray” is a Timbaland produced track that has R&B beats and soulful flair.
Sam Smith combines pain with beauty in this new LP. Where In the Lonely Hour he spoke of unreciprocated desires, The Thrill of It All talks about the pains of being in a relationship and when to say goodbye. With his incredible voice and him finding success so early in his life (he’s 25) it will be interesting to watch Sam Smith grow as an artist.
This album marks a new significant direction in Sam Smith’s career showing that he can challenge himself to go new places both lyrically and musically.