For this 22-year-old British singer, first impressions are everything.
Sam Smith, English singer of the hit "Stay With Me," released his first album on June 17, according to iTunes. The artist also broke a record by selling 166,000 copies of "In The Lonely Hour" in the U.S., which is a first for any UK debut album in the history of Nielsen. As far as UK charts, Smith has peaked at number one with "Money on My Mind," "Stay With Me," and "La La La" the collaboration with artist Naughty Boy.
The album itself is a 10 song album, with four extra tracks in the deluxe edition. Producers on the album include Steve Fitzmaurice, who has made albums with Kylie Minogue and U2, Fraser T Smith, who has worked on albums with Cee Lo Green and Ellie Goulding, and Eg White, who has worked on albums for Florence and The Machine and Adele.
The overarching theme of the album, according to an interview, is about Smith and a guy he once loved, who did not love him back.
The album begins with the track "Money on My Mind," which is about Smith's perspective on the music industry, and how his love of the art overshadows the money earned. The song is an upbeat start to an overall somber toned 45 minute album. The next track on the album is "Good Thing," which is about something going on between two people and their being together is not good for either of them. This song seems the most effortless out of the entire album, as if it just flows naturally out of Smith.
"Stay With Me" is the next track, the most popular single of Smith's. The song discusses an obvious emotional disconnect between two people, but the human want to be needed by someone overpowers that disconnect. The song features Smith's vocals layered in the background. The next track is "Leave Your Lover." The song is a plea made by Smith for someone to leave their lover, so that Smith can treat them better, and Smith wanting to be alone than rather face seeing the one he loves with someone else.
The next single of his, out Aug. 31, is "I'm Not The Only One." The song is about how one may say they love you, but not really mean it, and may not be the only one being loved or not getting to the core and realizing you may not be enough for the one you love. The next song "I've Told You Now" is about knowing there may be some sort of chemistry between two people, but it's not returned in the way one would like, and a frustration of unrequited love.
The very vocal and instrument heavy track "Like I Can" is another passionate track about unrequited love, and begs the question why is this person looking everywhere else for love, but not in the direction of Smith. The singer proclaims no one can love them like he can. "Life Support" is another one of those effortless vocal tracks, where Smith seems to envelope the listener and gets lost in his own vocals. This song seems the most raw about his apparent heartache, where he seems to wake up in darkness, and talks about the bed for two, and his cry for wanting that bed for two back.
"Not in That Way" is a very soft melodic song about his pain about the unrequited love being sung throughout the album. This track talks about the pain of being alone, never knowing how it feels on the other side of an unrequited love, and knowing how doomed a relationship is. The next track on the album is "Lay Me Down." This song has two recorded versions of it in existence, the first being an upbeat driven song, and the second being a piano driven melodic tune, with the latter being used in the final version of the album. This song is a plea to give love a try, and going crazy over someone, and just wanting to be with them. This song ends the standard album.
"Restart" is the song which begins the deluxe edition, and is a more uplifting vibe than the rest of the album, about being better alone, and wanting to start over without this unrequited love. "Latch" is the song with the British band Disclosure, and probably the poppiest of everything on the album, with some electronic vibes, although the album version is an acoustic recording of the track, a very harmonious mix of piano and strings.
"La La La" is the collaboration with Naughty Boy, and seems to have the biggest influence of R&B within the entire album, in this track. Smith's vocals really stand out with the beat in this song. The final song of the deluxe edition is "Make It To Me." The song is a very piano driven song, about Smith's want to have this stranger find his way to him, and complete him.
Smith's placement of the songs in the tracklist seems very specific and intentional, as each songs seems to take you through a different emotion, and you discover something new vocally with each lyric of his. The album overall is a vocal winner, although not much is explored in terms of melodies, which, while it is a negative of the album, it is also a positive thing, because it makes the album a story as a whole that Smith is telling, and each song is a chapter which is opened and closed.
With this being his first album, the album is an overall winner, and hopefully a Grammy contender within the next year, and now that Smith has made his first impressions on audiences everywhere, the stakes are raised even higher for the artist and his sophomore album.