Sam Smith- In the Lonely Hour


Creating a pop album in the mainstream sense has become a good way to attract hordes of fans in the digital age. With album sales declining and single song downloads on the rise, many artists are focusing on making strong radio singles while abandoning full conceptual records. Pop and Rock music tend to be the genres that are the heaviest offenders of such practices, but a lot of top 40 artists are killing the idea of an all-encompassing music experience. Sam Smith was an artist I was hoping to be earnest and real enough to avoid such a practice, his mix of dance music and poppy undertones gained him slight fame in 2012 and earned him a record deal with Capital in early 2014, but all the hope that the London pop artist showed to get to this point have unfortunately not equaled out to an interesting mainstream release.

With a sound palette that could be interesting on paper, In the Lonely Hour should be a decent record. There is a vast array of dance beats, acoustic guitars, steady drums, and the voice that has earned all the attention he has gotten so far. His voice is the highlight of the record by a long shot, giving just enough soul and range to give each song a slow but steady heart beat. The guitars throughout are solid as well, complimenting his falsetto at all points. The live drum work records to the album solidly, giving most songs a discernible beat. The symphony and dance beat samples are where the mixing gets thrown out of whack, though, and instead of making a small and folk-laden set of love ballads, Smith throws in too many unnecessary fake samples and vocal effects that sound cringe-worthy in comparison to his strong voice. At one point, there is a echo vocal manipulation which is one of the worst sounds I have heard on a record all year.

There are a few songs worth throwing a listen to for soul and pop fans. “Good Thing” has a smaller scope, speaking toward a failed relationship while hitting a palpable tragic tone. The guitars and drums are at their best in the track, even if they fail to truly mesmerize a listener. “Stay With Me” is a solid single, having some of the best lyrics of the ten song track listing, with Smith hitting a strong mix of high vocals while hitting lows with relative ease. The haunting piano and drum kick present throughout are some of the best instrumentation present here. The best song is easily “Not In That Way.” Despite Smith holding notes too long for intriguing delivery, the small instrumentation walls are well-mixed and give the song some much needed authenticity.

The negatives outweigh the positives on the record as a whole, though. Most of the track listing is full of bad mixing or weak writing that drag songs down to a disinteresting listen. The electronics for “Money On My Mind” distract from the fun message he has to say, while “Leave Your Lover” is a whiny song about trying to steal someone already in a relationship, which is an odd lyric set for someone trying to come off as a good guy. “Life Support” is easily the worst song of the album, giving away all the main problems in one sample size. There are weak horns, echoed vocal mixing that is far too distracting, and a weak chorus to kill the whole ride. The other major issue with the record is the background instrumentation that  is just too weak and boring to illuminate what Sam Smith has to say. He can create something interesting in the future, but the composition needs to be much tighter and better mixed to become enthralling.

Sam Smith has a great set of pipes to sing the various tracks for In the Lonely Hour, but there are too many problems outside of his pretty voice. The sound mixing is a major issue, along with instrument composition that is far too weak to merit any need to listen to the overly dramatic love songs. If Smith can write some music gearing toward a more powerful palette while hitting a few more themes along the way, he can become a force to reckoned with. Until then, fans may be left with the result of this record, which is too sappy and messy for it’s own good.


Track Listing
1. Money On My Mind
2. Good Thing
3. Stay With Me
4. Leave Your Lover
5. I’m Not the Only One
6. I’ve Told You Now
7. Like I Can
8. Life Support
9. Not In That Way
10. Lay Me Down

Links for Sam Smith

About krthll1 (82 Articles)
I am a huge media fan in general. Video games, music, and movies tend to be the ticket to my happiness. As far as music goes, I like to listen to music that can convey any sense of tangible emotional impact, whether it be dark, depressive, or happy. Favorite artists include Deafheaven, Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Kendrick Lamar, and Alice In Chains. I would like to thank everyone on the site for this opportunity and hope my output is worthy of the publishing.

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