“The Thrill Of It All” – Sam Smith album review

Jayden Palermo, Staff Writer

Sam Smith has released his second studio album: and it is quite the success.

The Thrill Of It All is now the four-time Grammy winner’s highest selling album in the U.S., and his second number-one album in the nation, following his 2014 release of his debut album, In The Lonely Hour. With 97,328 combined units, (83,637 sales and 13,691 sale-equivalent streams), Smith’s second studio effort enters the Billboard Top 200 at No. 1.

The album opens with the chart-topping single, “Too Good At Goodbyes” which is now intriguingly receiving not only pop, but R&B radio play, and charting at No.1 in the U.K. The decision for this song, of all 14 tracks, to be the lead single was nothing less than genius.

Delivered through soft vibrato, heavy emotion and an upbeat snare drum-led chorus, “Too Good At Goodbyes” explores what it is like to have experienced heartbreak too many times and keeping a rather safe distance from the person you love, in order to save yourself from getting hurt. Smith lyrically portrays what it is like to have been down such a road before, and to be, well, too good at goodbyes.

“Say It First” which is the second track off the album, takes listeners on a racy journey of falsetto and upbeat tempo carried by a muffled bass. This song is definitely one to listen to on a rainy walk home or a drive at night. First-time-listeners will be attracted to the soft cooing-like sounds within the chorus, but may get tired after a few listens, seeing as how it is quite the repetitive piece.

Smith explains through these lyrics how he has been hurt before and hasn’t had experience with someone who cares so much about him. This song captivates what question practically every relationship encounters- who’s going to be the first to say “I love you”? Of course, one will want to, but will wait for their partner to “Say It First”.

Smith chose “One Last Song” to be the second single to come off of his second studio album, and just like the first, many are pleased with this single choice. When drawing comparison within the two singles, this song definitely has the capability of being up to par with, or even more ear-pleasing than the first single, because it is unique in the way that he digs deep to deliver powerful, raspy tones- something you don’t hear in “Too Good At Goodbyes”.

This record is also the third song off the album, and comes in to save listeners who may have been a little bored with the previous track, “Say It First”. “One Last Song” showcases Smith’s high vocal range and his vocal ability as a whole.

“It’s good, he has a powerful voice. He knows how to bring emotion into a song, so that you feel it. I respect that,” said Carol Ann Gladstone, a fan of the British star.

“I choose me, and I know that’s selfish”, Smith sings as the opening lyric of the fourth track, “Midnight Train”. This song, like many others on this album, has a chorus that is lightheartedly lead by a snare drum and a simple bass, but is melodic and catchy. The song depicts the hard but much-needed departure from the person you love the most. Relatable and emotional- grab a box of tissues for this one.

“Burning”- a song that is guaranteed to ignite your emotions and tug at your heartstrings. Like “Midnight Train”, Smith sings with passion and emotion as he lyrically depicts the feeling of a significant romantic absence in his life. He sings the metaphor, “Such a burden, this flame on my chest”- you’re bound to shed tears listening to this track. With choir-like background vocals as harmonic partners to the main melody, this is a track that you feel.

“HIM”. Possibly the most meaningful and powerful song on this record.

Being in the LGBT community himself, Sam Smith shuts down homophobes and Christians who believe that people who are in the LGBT, will not go to heaven, or are not loved by God. He sings, “Don’t you try and tell me that God doesn’t care for us, it is Him I love, it is Him I love”.

Fans and general listeners around the world who are a part of, or support, the LGBT community, will be very pleased with this track. It exhibits what it feels like to be turned away by society, but to know that you are still loved regardless of your sexuality. A huge salute to Smith for perfectly executing this song with emotion, power and determination.

As we indulge further into The Thrill Of It All, we hear two tracks that are alike in the way that they both keep a light, buoyant sound.

“Baby, You Make Me Crazy” and “Pray”, both carry melodies that will make anyone want to hit replay. We see a lighter side of Smith with these tracks, instead of the more emotional, darker side we usually see on any Sam Smith record.

“No Peace” is the only track that features another artist on this album. YEBBA works with Smith on this track to create a more modern, dark urban pop sound. YEBBA, who many did not expect as a collaboration on this album, adds a harsh female flare- an amazing touch to the track and to the album itself. Many songs on this album have a R&B/Jazz feel, and so while still staying true to the singer’s infamous falsettos and high notes, “No Peace” kind of sets itself apart from any other track on this project.

Tracks nine and eleven off this album seem to be the ones that give off the jazziest feel.

“Nothing Left For You” starts off with a jazz-like guitar riff but goes on to have more of an eerie sound. This track can be described as hollow, as it doesn’t showcase an insane amount of snare or bass- just Smith and a guitar, really. Listeners will turn out to be very pleased with this laid back type of song, as it only highlights Smith’s raw vocals, delivering a soothing melody accompanied by dark, but jazzy guitar riffs.

“Palace”, track No. 9, also is accompanied by a guitar mostly- only this time, a warmer sound. Smith sings of wishing he never began a relationship with someone. This is another relatable track, which is what we see a lot throughout this album. This song is very calming, and almost kind of, well, quiet. It’s delicate in the way that it sounds as though he is singing right into your ear.

The last three songs to close off The Thrill Of It All are “The Thrill Of It All”, “Scars” and “One Day At A Time”, all sum up a healing process from being hurt by the one you thought loved you the most. These songs were an excellent compliment to the entire album, though you may find yourself skipping through, due to simply not being in the mood for them. Overall, all three tracks bring emotion and powerful passion that is guaranteed to make anyone who listens, feel every lyric.

“I feel that this album is going to win many awards, but In The Lonely Hour is still my prefered choice,” said Gladstone.

Although this album did not please everyone as much as In The Lonely Hour did back in 2014, it is agreeable that Smith’s music makes you feel. Whether it’s happiness, sadness or being able to relate perfectly to what he is singing about, you feel. It’s universal, relatable emotion. That’s what people can expect from this album- raw emotion. That’s the best part. That is The Thrill Of It All.