Having dominated playlists and radio stations for the past few weeks, Sam Smith has released his highly anticipated second album The Thrill Of It All.
Throughout the record, Smith is consistent in terms of strong vocal deliver, instrumentation, and overall feel, even if it doesn’t step too far away from his debut.
In songs like Too Good At Goodbyes, Him, and the religiously-tinged Pray, Smith makes full use of stark piano chords, gospel choirs and simmering strings which build to a crescendo time and again. Each song is powerful, but it does become a little predictable.
No Peace features female vocals from Yebba, which initially offers nice harmonies, but with building strings and piano, the singers end up fighting against each other. Palace, however, gets the balance right, staying downbeat while Smith’s higher range remains soft in the choruses, allowing the harmonies to gel perfectly.
One Last Song and Midnight Train are more swing and retro-soul with brass and tremolo guitar, reminiscent of Amy Winehouse (they in fact feature long-time Winehouse band The Dap-Kings. The reverb-laden Say It First and Burning are as immersive as London Grammar, and the soul-pop of Baby, You Make Me Crazy is far more optimistic, even if Smith’s darker lyrics say otherwise.
Lyrics such as “I’m sending out a message to you, and I hope it gets through” in One Last Song show Smith’s simplistic and conversational approach to songwriting. While The Thrill of It All is a solid album, Smith will need to stretch himself a bit more on the next record if he wants to stay on top of his game.
Edited by Karly Cox