Sam Smith- In the Lonely Hour [Prelim thoughts]

This time last year, I never thought I’d be doing this entry… or that I’d be buying Sam Smith’s album AND loving it as much as I have.

I’d only hear it through maybe three time so far, so there isn’t a lot of thought put into these songs yet.
But I have a good idea where I stand with most of them.
And there are several positives to be had.

A little brief history first…
The first time I heard “Stay with me,” I HATED it. Particularly the gospel backing vocals… it’s a clichΓ© I hate in music (at least in most cases). Found out a while later that he was behind all the vocals on this and had them layered. I thought only Prince could get away with that…
Then I listened to the lyrics and I’m thinking “why is this guy getting so emotional about a one-night stand?”
Everything just came out wrong in my head.

Then I found out later that Sam Smith wasn’t only white (swear to God, he sounded black. The gospel section certainly didn’t discourage that), but he was also gay :shrug: It didn’t surprise me. His vocals are very over the top, so that fit.
That isn’t to say that contributed to my dislike of him or that I immediately jumped to the conclusion that he’s so over the top because he’s flaming Kinsey-Six gay. Just thought he was too much like a male version of Adele- too many sad songs about break-ups and bad relationships.
I hated Adam Lambert when he was on American Idol because his screaming hurt my ears. His sexuality had nothing to do with that.

Adam Lambert, I came around with when he had a recurring role on “Glee,” mentored and guest-judged for American Idol. Watched a concert on Yahoo of him fronting Queen and was very impressed. And also love his song “Ghost Town”… has a really cool vibe to it.
“Mad World” was the one memory from his time on American Idol where I really liked him at all. I love me 80’s music and Tears for Fears, but I far prefer the Donnie Darko version of it because of Adam Lambert.

With Sam Smith, my mood started to change a bit when I heard he was having vocal chord surgery. I know Adele went through the same thing and turned out okay, but I couldn’t help but be concerned. Everyone said he had one of the greatest voices and I didn’t want that to be lost.

I may not always agree with his artistic choices, but there was no denying there was singing talent. One of the most unique, strongest voices we’ve had in a long time.

And there’d been some great dances (and figure skating programs) that featured his music and his voice highlighted the artistry taking place in the foreground.

One time while at work, I heard “Not the only one” on the radio and was able at that time to really listen to the lyrics. [Between the scanners, printers and vacuuming, it can get pretty loud there sometimes]. I felt like a switch flipped in me and when I heard that song afterwards, I couldn’t help but get emotional.

After a while, I started to consider his album. Not entirely sure why, but I was getting a good feeling about him. If that one song can affect me, then he’s got to have more. I was willing to take a chance even if this album was just like Adele’s “21,” just sang by a man.
I think the tipping point was ultimately Trent Harmon doing “Like I can” on American Idol and I was thinking how much I really want to hear Sam Smith sing it so I can remember how it’s done right. For me, it just made me cringe because he didn’t sound in tune for me. (Of everyone left as of this entry, Trent is the only Idol I’m on the fence about that we don’t really want to win in my house. And I liked him early on- just lately, except for “Stand by me,” it’s been meh).

I researched the album and figured I’d want a deluxe edition because I wanted “Latch.”
That song had since been following me around over the past couple weeks πŸ˜› on the album and also at various events where it’s being sung by other people. (Kimmie Meissner replied to me when I tweeted how her performance to it on a televised skating show was my favorite).
Quentin Alexander did really well with the uptempo version on “Idol” last year… but listening to the acoustic version on this album, I just can’t imagine it not being a ballad. It loses the emotion with the EDM arrangement.

In summation, my thoughts so far…

I still have cringe-moments where he hits the higher register in certain songs. Artistically, I don’t 100% feel that compatibility with him. That’s either going to go away with time or they’ll just be songs I skip. Simple as that.

By the end of the first listen, I was very pleased. For starters because this wasn’t like Adele’s 21 album. [While on that, a lot of great songs, yes. But after a while, it gets so repetitive that I lose interest. “Rumor Has It” “Rolling in the Deep” and “Set Fire to the Rain” are bit more uptempo, but it’s just the same vibe in different packing. Lamenting a bad relationship or swearing off an ex-lover].

This album has a lot more variety.

“Money on my mind” isn’t so much about a relationship gone bad. It’s kinda like Sara Bareilles and “Love Song.” It’s upbeat and trying to tell the record exces what’s what.
When I heard it, I recognized it. Likely because someone sang it on The Voice at some point. [Team Pharrell in season 7]
It makes a good statement. I also loved the musical part of it. It’s pop with a hint of R&B with the vocals and backing vocals. Very cool and chill. It energized me for the rest of the album. A real plus.

“Good Thing” is one I’m on the fence about because it’s a little repetitive and it’s easy to forget considering the powerhouses that surround it.

“Stay with me”… maybe the first time I got any emotional response to it… when they included it at the end of “The Mindy Project” this past season where she was maybe thinking about leaving Danny.
That and having “Last Christmas” in the credits, it was a bittersweet affair.
Needless to say, I came around and pretty much take away every bad thing I’ve said about it.

One thing’s for sure- I should probably bury this album when I’m PMSing because there’ll be no stopping THAT river of tears. It’s bad enough that I almost cry 3-4 times during this album πŸ˜›

“Leave your lover” I like a lot. Lyrically, I feel like I can relate… at least in the way that I’d express myself in the same way.

“Not the only one”… real tear-jerker… I was singing the words after hearing it a couple times on the radio. And forgot that final minute πŸ˜› it’s so sad…

“I told you now”, again, on the fence. But only because it had to follow maybe my favorite track on the album.
The chorus has some cringe-worthy moments for me, but already, I’m starting to adjust and get used to them. Maybe once I finally learn and grasp the lyrics.

“Like I can”… I LOVE how it’s so upbeat. It’s not about a bad relationship. It’s about trying to start a good one. I really have a lot of fun with it. I just haven’t played it at a moment where I could really enjoy it (I’m usually driving and the traffic is bad).

“Life Support” I’m starting to grasp the lyrics, but I’m not particularly a fan of it. Gets repetitive and old kinda fast.

“Not in that way,” I think is about unrequited love… been there, done that. So it’s hard not to like it.

“Lay me down”… maybe in a couple weeks, I’ll know the words and maybe record a cover for YouTube. Who knows? When I go through the chorus, my voice hits a sweet spot on the “you” on “I’ll take care of you”.
I’ll have to revisit Jeffery Austin’s audition of it again for The Voice. I dismissed him based on his song choice, thinking he’ll just be another Sam Smith type.
Then when he did “Jealous”… not the Nick Jonas song, but by someone else… it was so beautiful and I became such a fan that I was devastated when he came in 4th.

So maybe I have him ultimately to thank for Sam Smith making it into my album collection.

“Restart” was a pleasant surprise. It sounds like an 80’s song, very upbeat with great production on it. Really good way of dismissing an ex-lover who wants to get back together.

“Latch”… omg, I LOSE it with this song πŸ˜› the cringe vocals barely bother me anymore. I get so wrapped up in the emotion of it that it practically kills me.

“La la la”- the first couple seconds I wasn’t sure if I was going to like. Naughty Boy has some weird vocals on it that got on my nerves a bit, but it’s hard not to like how so in rhythm with music he/she was (seriously, the vocals sounded female so seeing the credit threw me off a bit).
But there are so many interesting things going on in the song with the music and the catchy chorus, it’s hard not to enjoy it

“Make it to me”
This final track sold me on the album being a success. I thought the title was “Designed for me”… it’s looking for a new love or soul mate. the lyrics were so beautiful and romantic and I so wanted to use them for myself.

So lots of great music. It was a pleasant surprise.
Yesterday, I was feeling on edge about something (which I’ll address once I have more information… ironically I was terrified to go on Twitter this morning (after being away for a day) to find out if there was. Only to find it may be a week before I hear anything else…
anyway, this album at least distracted me from that and that was a good thing. Not knowing stuff is stressful. Can’t imagine how he’s feeling actually going through it…

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