Multiple Grammy award winner Sam Smith returned to the music scene on Friday Nov. 3, releasing a new, deftly produced album entitled The Thrill of It All.
The emotional highs and lows of the album can be described as intoxicatingly sad and lamentable. It was clear with this new release that Smith wanted his work to be perceived as thought-provoking and deeply passionate.
The Thrill of It All recycles old break up themes found in Smith’s earlier works, but Smith was able to keep things fresh and interesting to listen to. In this album, Smith has discovered more of who he is as a lyricist; it is clear that since the release of In the Lonely Hour he has grown significantly as both an artist and as an entertainer.
“Too Good at Goodbyes,” the leadoff single of the album, became an instant anachronistic smash when it was released on Sept. 8. It is composed mainly of piano, finger snapping, a choir and drums behind Smith’s voice.
Few other tracks go beyond those instruments, aside from some rhythmic guitar licks occasionally appearing where a piano should be. Minimalism is in nearly every song on the album, which is something distinctive to be found in the year of 2017.
“Too Good at Goodbyes” is a wonderful example of how to utilize instruments in modest soul music. The song describes the singer who is mentally preparing for a break-up that is bound to happen. Smith is found to be dismissing his lover before he can be hurt by them. The lyrics portray the wall he puts up against other people, because he is all too accustomed to being hurt.
That message resonates with the listeners, as many are familiar with the story Smith is telling. The song causes the listener to ponder past relationships that have gone sour or have been forgotten, and how that will affect future romantic endeavors.
“Midnight Train” is another hit depicting how it feels to be the one to leave a relationship. The lyrics illustrate that Smith is aware of how his actions will hurt his lover, which he is regretful of, but feels is necessary for him to leave for his own well-being.
The most impactful lyrics have to be, “I got my reasons, but darling I can’t explain / I’ll always love you / but tonight’s the night I choose to walk away.” Other lyrics in this song are sadly sweet and sentimental. Smith eloquently writes in the chorus, “Love you so much that I have to let you go.”
Too much sadness could potentially make the collection of songs boring and repetitive, but there is enough variety in the sub-theme of each song to keep the 35 minute-long standard edition album compelling. Smith managed to incorporate the sad break-up motif into the work, so as to maintain his gloomy, soulful signature style.
The Thrill of It All is one of the best pop albums of the year thus far, and it is definitely worth the short amount of time it takes to listen to all 14 tracks, including four special edition bonus tracks. It serves as a collection of ballads expressesing deep emotion in a beautifully simple way. The raw lyrics can apply to every individual’s own version of heart wrenching memories, making it a personal listening experience.
The album fits the theme of Smith’s perpetually broken-hearted world, while also offering an ironic glimmer of hope for those struggling with love and heartbreak.u