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Sam Smith - The Thrill Of It All (Album Review)

Monday, 06 November 2017 Written by Jacob Brookman

There is a lot riding on Sam Smith’s second album. His 2014 debut, ‘In the Lonely Hour’ shipped upwards of 10m copies and secured four Grammys. But, following that, the singer displayed a capacity for professional self destruction.

He arrogantly dismissed the patron saint of indie music, Thom Yorke, in a press conference, and then flubbed an Oscars acceptance speech by claiming he was the first openly gay man to win an Academy Award (he definitely, definitely wasn’t). “I wanted to say something positive and I fucked up,” he recently told NME.

As such, the fanfare with which ‘The Thrill of It All’ has been released has been careful, and the music itself is almost entirely risk-free.

Smith’s voice has returned in fine form, and his distinctive (if samey) tone is showcased particularly well on lead single Too Good at Goodbyes, as well as the swinging ballad One Last Song.

But, overall, the album is dull. Smith’s voice is the best thing on it, weaving an enormously engaging patchwork of emotional genuflection and humorous self-deprecation, but its backing tracks lack depth and ambition.

Actually, the same problem persisted on his debut, where rootsy drum-loops and oversimplified melodies were preferred to big band authenticity. The gold standard for blue-eyed soul balladry remains Adele’s ‘21’, and it’s unlikely any of the cuts on ‘The Thrill of It All’ would make it onto that album.

It will still sell by the bucketload, of course, with Burning, Baby, You Make Me Crazy and the churchy Him having the chops to arrive on the Radio 1 and 2 playlists without breaking stride. But there’s nothing remotely original here.

Furthermore, the use of gospel touches feels at best disingenuous and, at worst, cynical. It suggests an appropriation of African-American musical tropes that felt fresh in the ‘90s, but which has run its course in the age of Trump and Brexit. Aim higher.

Sam Smith Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue March 20 2018 - SHEFFIELD FlyDSA Arena Sheffield
Wed March 21 2018 - NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE Metro Radio Arena
Fri March 23 2018 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Sat March 24 2018 - GLASGOW SSE Hydro
Tue March 27 2018 - MANCHESTER Arena
Wed March 28 2018 - MANCHESTER Arena
Fri March 30 2018 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Sat March 31 2018 - DUBLIN 3Arena
Tue April 03 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Genting Arena
Wed April 04 2018 - BIRMINGHAM Genting Arena
Fri April 06 2018 - LONDON O2
Sat April 07 2018 - LONDON O2
Mon April 09 2018 - LONDON O2
Tue April 10 2018 - LONDON O2

Click here to compare & buy Sam Smith Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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