After a 3 year long wait, Sam Smith is finally back with another powerful album. After stealing all of our hearts with the well loved single Stay With Me and the Grammy deserving album In The Lonely Hour, his new, much-anticipated album, The Thrill Of It All, is another beautiful piece of work, highlighting a new part of Sam. His unique and strong vocals are always a match to the high quality of his music and beautifully written lyrics. 3 years is indeed a long time to wait, and we cannot deny that Sam has majorly transformed both physically and mentally. This album is surely a mark of Sam’s distinctive transformation and his reflection upon the ups and downs he has faced over this course of time.
Despite being classified into the pop genre, the album revolves around retro-soul, with gospel-like background vocals in the choruses. With his personal struggles being shared in song Pray, and his smoking addiction being addressed in the ballad Burning, there is a different chapter of Sam’s life associated with each song on the album. The lyrics that are arguably the most striking on the album are “Everyone prays in the end” (from Pray), explaining how as nonbelievers give up and lose all faith in themselves, and they then turn to God and put all of their faith into him. Additionally, in Burning, “I’ve been burning up since you left” (from Burning), expresses how Sam started smoking out of grief after the end of a relationship. “And Lord knows there’s no relief” (from No Peace) is also particularly memorable: if we look closely, the lyrics are all about damage, loss and hardship. But as Sam Smith is only the young age of 25, seeing an artist sing songs wholly revolving around sadness is potentially a little concerning.
One song that signifies Sam’s escalated self-acceptance is HIM, where he addresses homosexuality in the themes of religion and his past. “Holy Father, we need to talk / I have a secret, that I can’t keep.” From this, we can say that Sam has gained the confidence to address this matter and sing his heart out about his journey of being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Sam has allowed his listeners to get to know him better with how open and intimate he is about his life experiences in all his songs.
When comparing both of his albums, it is clear that In The Lonely Hour had a very different, dynamic vibe to the entire album, with upbeat songs like Money On My Mind and La La La, along with a mix of some moving ballads like Stay With Me and I Know I’m Not The Only One. But when we listen to The Thrill Of It All, it is soon apparent that all of the songs are relatively slow-paced, with piano chords and mellow drum beats, and a very dramatic but low-lying energy. The songs which are the most captivating are HIM, Pray, Burning and Too Good At Goodbyes.
Overall, the album is well-rounded, using each song to express a different, but mainly heart-breaking, story that has taken place in Sam’s life. We cannot deny the purity of the music that was created out of each tale. The fact that he expressed all of his feelings and personal hardships with his listeners on such a large scale with the release of this album is an additional reason to love it. There is undeniably a lack of upbeat music on this album, which is a little shocking after the release of some really brilliant songs with Disclosure such as Omen and Latch. This doesn’t matter too much, however: all of his feelings, endeavours and experiences are wonderfully portrayed in The Thrill Of It All.