The Power of Lonely

A full album review of Sam Smith’s “The Thrill Of It All” (2017)

Maroon 5 and Sam Smith both released an album last week, it was such an exciting time to do a review.   Two very promising releases…I listened first to Maroon 5’s “Red Pill Blues” but decided on keeping my thoughts about that album in the same place where I hid my thoughts about Fergie’s “Double Dutchess”, and Katy Perry’s “Witness”.

I’ve also wanted to write about Pink’s recent release, “Beautiful Trauma”. But the gloomy weather here in Manila calls for tackling Sam’s, “The Thrill Of It All”.

Sam’s recurring sadness just made him a sophomore album. It’s so good you don’t want him to be happy ever again. Who else is going to sing about our kind of lonely – the painful with blood in your mouth kind?

Start with “Burning”, it’s a good introduction to this album, especially if you’ve already been exposed to the instant hit, “Too Good At Goodbyes”.  Sam’s albums are lyric feats, so expect me to dwell on the lines, and in between.

In his 2014 album “In the Lonely Hour”, Sam admitted he wasn’t good at one-night stands; in this new album, he found another thing he is potentially bad at…staying committed, thus the song, “Too Good At Goodbyes”.  In an interview about the album, Sam shared that the song was about “getting good at getting dumped”.

So how do you get good at getting dumped?  If love is a ballgame, be on the defense.

 “I’m never gonna let you close to me
Even though you mean the most to me
‘Cause every time I open up, it hurts
So I’m never gonna get too close to you
Even when I mean the most to you
In case you go and leave me in the dirt.”

The title track, “The Thrill of it All” and “Nothing Left For You” were cuts from the same cloth as “Too Good At Goodbyes”.

Listening further, you’d realize it’s not just the act of staying committed, it’s commitment per se that’s making Sam anything but thrilled. In fact if you’re going to get him to commit, you need to “Say it First” (Yeah, sorry for introducing that beauty of a song that way, hahaha it’s pretty self-explanatory).

But our boy with a golden voice is now a grown man with enough courage to be the first to walk out of a relationship that is not doing him or his partner any good, as said in “Midnight Train”. He also knew better than to bounce back to a love he should be moving away from as stated in “One Last Song”.

Okay, let’s not get too involved with Sam’s emotions.  He said himself that there were only four songs included in the album that were based on his stories, the rest were stories from friends.  Take “HIM” and “Pray” for example.  Sam dedicates “HIM” to an LGBT cause, while “Pray” encompasses all other issues of mankind.  These would actually pass for gospel songs given the arrangements rendered to both tracks.

But going back to tracks that are about Sam’s love life, cue in the song…
“Palace”.  The grown man Sam spoke, “I wrote this song because no matter how many times my heart breaks, how many shit relationships I go through, real love is never a waste of time.”

Awwww. Nuff said.

If you need to, you’d have something to dance to with “Baby, You Make Me Crazy”. It’s another song about being dumped but this one at least revels in big band with horn section vibe. Yup, it’s the only upbeat track, and yup, you just realized now that this album is filled with heavy heart stuff (heavier than “In the Lonely Hour”).

Now I don’t care whose stories “One Day At a Time”, “Scars” and “No Peace” were based on, they’re just as beautiful as the other tracks when it comes to the dynamics of words and music.  Especially “No Peace”, I’d stream that on repeat, and  I’m so in a hurry to wrap this up because I wanna listen more to our sad boy Sam.  Adieu.

 

Note: This review first appeared on my music review site, yanimusic.wordpress.com.

 

Categories Music

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