Review: The Thrill of It All by Sam Smith

The Thrill of It All by Sam SmithFirst off, there isn’t really much to be excited about on The Thrill of It All, the sophomore release from Sam Smith. In fact he’s ditched most of the (relatively) clubbier stuff that kicked off his ascent, and doubled down on being the male Adele, his transcendent-at-times vocal and some relatively sparse production powering through almost the whole record. It should make for a drab album, but somehow Sam manages to engage, relatively. Again, like Adele. You can’t deny their vocal chops; you can’t deny they have good songs; but you just can’t have all of that constantly. I was looking for texture, but then, I found myself forgiving Sam. Somehow, for all of its schmaltz, it’s a comforting album. It’s not that he doesn’t step out of his comfort zone: for every weepy “Too Good For Goodbye” there’s a track like “Pray”, this weird Timbaland-assisted thing where promising production gives way to more gospel choirs. But that song sees Sam grapple with a trip to Iraq and his faith, a theme that runs through the record, particularly in “Him”, both a plea to the powers-that-be above and a declaration of love for another man. Perhaps The Thrill of It All will connect if you pay attention to what he says. Too bad he doesn’t exactly demand it, because it can be so comfortable. [NB]3/5

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