Sam Smith ‘In the Lonely Hour’ Review Roundup

May 31, 2014

Sam Smith’s debut album, ‘In the Lonely Hour,’ has arrived. The British soul singer has risen to fame in the months preceding the much anticipated release. And now that the album is out in the UK, the music critics are weighing in. Find out what they have to say.

The 22-year-old Sam Smith first drew notice as the featured artist on Naughty Boy’s hit single ‘La La La’ which topped the UK album charts. He has gone on quickly to become a solo artist of much intrigue, excitement and expectation. Further enshrining his status as a breakthrough artist and one to watch, he topped the BBC Sound of 2014 poll and won the Critics’ Choice prize at the Brit Awards.

His debut album is long awaited and has been proceeded by his rising fame on the merit of stunning vocals and powerful songs such as ‘Money on My Mind’ and ‘Stay with Me’ that have gone on to become international hits. He has drawn comparisons to Adele for both the musical kinship as well as the deeply personal songs.

Recently, in an interview with The Fader, Sam Smith spoke about the man who inspired the album in general, and the powerful and poignant song ‘Leave Your Lover’ in particular. He told the publication, “‘In the Lonely Hour’ is about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn’t love me back. I think I’m over it now, but I was in a very dark place. I kept feeling lonely in the fact that I hadn’t felt love before.” The interview also served as the means by which he had come out as gay.

And now, ‘In the Lonely Hour’ has arrived in full. Critics have given positive reviews generally, along with a few raves and a few that are decidedly mixed. Here’s a roundup.

“….In The Lonely Hour’ is a painful listen, but for all the right reasons. It will resonate with that hole or pit in your stomach you’ve more than likely experienced at moments of loneliness throughout your life. Sam captures that pain in his voice and screams – without screaming – his past worries and upsets.

There’s never a moment that you worry Sam won’t hit the high notes and it’s refreshing to have such a talent go through an entire record without any hint of voice manipulation or ‘autotune’ for the simple fact it isn’t needed….” — Female First

“….Whoever took hold of Sam’s heart and ignored it is in for a tough listen. From his bewilderment on ‘Like I Can’ (“Why are you looking down all the wrong roads?”) to his cautious nature on ‘Good Thing’ (“Watch where I tread before I fall”), Smith’s brush with love is raw and unapologetic. His painful infatuation with an unanswered romance has naturally drawn comparisons to Adele’s 21, and like his Brits Critics’ Choice predecessor, Smith’s perceptual outlook is one that strikes the deepest emotion…..” — Digital Spy

“….His debut album doesn’t disappoint and heavily pens a signature of raw, heart-on-sleeve lyrics and gloriously controlled sound. Good Thing has a charming beat, despite it’s sad tale: “although you made my heart sing, to stay with you would be wrong”. Recent single Stay with Me appears third, and this track is simply electrifying with it’s blunt honesty and exquisite gospel influence. Leave Your Lover is gentle and painful……” — The Upcoming

“…. Stay With Me bears a lazy resemblance to Emeli Sandé’s Next to Me, proving the point of the naysayers: this is very, very safe music. But Smith has two things going for him – believability and exquisite restraint. Not for him The X Factor school of show-off belting that serves only to cheapen emotion. He could do it. He doesn’t….” — The Observer

“….While his debut certainly wallows in sadness, he forgets that true misery is more than just rhyming couplets about pain and rain – it’s an angry, unstable emotion, too. Where this LP fails is in its safeness: Smith has a gorgeous, expressive voice, but there’s not enough rawness to “do an Adele”, nor enough eeriness to follow Frank Ocean. ..” — The Guardian

‘In the Lonely Hour’ is due out in the U.S. on June 17th; check back for more reviews in the approaching days. It has debuted at No. 1 in the UK and at No. 2 in Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. The poignant ‘Leave Your Lover’ music video is below.

Pictures: PR Photos

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