At the very latest with his first solo album Lonely Hour, released in 2104, today's 27-year-old British singer-songwriter Sam Smith plays a major role in the international squad of top pop singers. A favorably passed vocal cord surgery later, he won in early 2016, the Oscar for the performance of the title song in the James Bond film Specter in the Best Song category, topping the Grammy Award among other things in the category Best Artist in the previous year. With that, Sam Smith, who had outed himself as gay before his Oscar win, finally justified his reputation as a high flyer on the international pop scene.
What is the key to the enormous success of a Sam Smith? The man can sing. And how! But that alone is not enough to get to the top. There has to be added that certain something. And that, in the case of Sam Smith, is his powerful, high-pitched tenor, which he stages with a timbre that sometimes makes it difficult to decide whether a male or a female is behind it. This androgynous way of singing coupled with a decidedly masculine look makes the Sam Smith brand something special.
Too Good At Goodbyes, the title song of the new album, cavorts as single release in the Billboard Top 10 in spite of, or because of, its clever kitschy heart-pounding mood, and already has more than 100,000 views in You Tube. More down-to-earth things go in the brass-saturated One Last Song, but also in the song Baby You Make Me Crazy, both of which sound a bit like a reminiscence of Amy Winehouse. Not only brass reinforces the mood of the songs on The Thrill Of It All, but also a chorus filled with black voices, apparently well familiar with gospel singing, as in "Burning".
Not only the title track, but each of the songs collected on the new album has the potential to be successful as a single as well, thanks to its ingenious composition, dramatic design and high professionalism of all participants. However, Sam Smith gets the hammer out in "Him". Here he reveals his same-sex, intimate love and asks the Holy Father, the Pope, for forgiveness for his - from the point of view of the Catholic Church - revealed misconduct. "Him" is like a second outing projected onto the streets of Mississippi that Sam Smith walks hand in hand with his lover. This city in the southern United States is known for its unusually high levels of aggressive intolerance of anything black and gay even for the Southern States. Choosing this place for the protest march of the two lovers turns Him into a protest song against inhuman intolerance of any kind and sets The Thrill Of It All apart from the usually apolitical pop albums.
Alone because of Him, The Thrill Of It All is worth downloading in its best-sounding high-resolution version. Since the other songs too are of above-average quality and piece by piece are excellently sung, the new album by Sam Smith is sure to be a lasting success.