The pop world was about ready to forget about Sam Smith, his hit 'Stay With Me' and Bond theme 'Writings On The Wall' running their course. Just when you were ready to call him a one-hit wonder, he's back with new stories and an open heart. Sam Smith returns with emotion in The Thrill Of It All, a very eye-opening look on Smith's life.
Genuine pop is always the best. When you can really sing about your emotions, you can make beautiful art. Smith has a lot going on in his life, and he makes it very clear. Some of his most powerful work is found on The Thrill Of It All, especially at the core of the record. 'Burning' is the first of the most powerful numbers, its choir backing adding a lot of soul to the song as Smith's smooth voice beautifully chants "I wasn't enough / It's like the fire replaced all the love." 'HIM' is the best track on the album, for many reasons. It has both faithful and personal implications; Smith is an openly gay man, and as he sings about his father's (or God's) disapproval ("Holy Father, we need to talk... I’m not the boy that you thought you wanted"), he claims he will faithfully stand by both his choice and his faith: the chorus simply yet powerfully asserts "It is him I love."
The rest of The Thrill Of It All is still quite personal, but not much of it sticks out powerfully. Perhaps it's just personal taste, but at the start of the record, his falsettos feel a bit sloppy. The opening of single 'Too Good At Goodbyes' and 'Say It First' bring the record to a thematically proper start with deep meanings, but it's still a bumpy start. Most of the rest of the album continues on, expanding upon Smith's signature gospel backing. Not much really changes sonically. YEBBA guests on 'No Peace' to deliver a double sided recollection of abuse in a relationship, and 'Palace' beautifully chants about a past love. The album doesn't want to shift out of its comfort zone in any way other than lyrically, and it ends up feeling a bit monotonous by the end.
Sam Smith returns with emotion in The Thrill Of It All, and though it doesn't tend to do much sonically, it puts itself on the line lyrically. It's incredibly personal, and there would be no other way Sam Smith could return to music.
Favorite Tracks: HIM, Burning, Palace
Least Favorite Track: Pray
Rating: 76 / 100
Stream or buy The Thrill Of It All on Apple Music: