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Sam Smith - Love Goes (Album Review)

Friday, 06 November 2020 Written by Milly McMahon

Sam Smith has long relied on a talent for writing gut-wrenching pop ballads. Evolving and maturing as a person through their music, Smith has explored the recesses of the self with profound fragility since the release of their first album six years ago.

Blossoming into an artist brimming with conviction, proud and emotionally anarchic, an overarching message of acceptance resonates throughout Smith’s work. But with the release of their third album ‘Love Goes’, they have paired break-up ruminations with a risky shift from soul towards pop-funk. 

With this 17 track LP, Smith catapults their grief onto the dancefloor and resolves to “get a little wild, get a little high, kiss a hundred boys.” Dance (‘Til You Love Someone Else) and Young set the tone for their 2020 manifesto, and this progression feels fitting.

But there are moments when Smith becomes bogged down. The tracklist is made convoluted by mopey ballads For The Lover That I Lost and Forgive Myself, which both feel reminiscent of Smith’s 2016 sound and represent a missed opportunity for total reinvention. 

Working with long term collaborator Guy Lawrence of Disclosure, along with the likes of Shellback, Steve Mac and Jimmy Napes, Smith’s upbeat moments are stratospheric by comparison and might have made a bigger impression as a streamlined EP. 

Sitting on the LP’s second side, stuck in the bonus track streaming hinterland, are the Normani collab Dancing with a Stranger, Calvin Harris tie up Promises and I'm Ready, with Demi Lovato. They sit like afterthoughts on a drawn out running order, further confusing the LP’s aims.

Smith's vocals are unfailingly powerful and rich, and the clarity of their tones are at times deeply moving. The sentiments behind their ballads remain affecting, and the dance tracks are well executed, but as a single piece they feel muddled and lacking in genuine insight. For an artist who has so much to say, ‘Love Goes’ expresses too little.

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