Sam Smith's The Thrill of It All: What You Need To Know
Since making his breakthrough as a guest vocalist on Disclosure's 2012 hit 'Latch', Sam Smith's career has been on an uninterrupted upward trajectory, selling more than 12 million copies of his debut album In the Lonely Hour and picking up four Grammys in the process.
This week Smith returns with the album's follow-up, The Thrill of It All. Here's everything you need to know...
A little background...
Since the runaway success of his debut album, Smith has followed in the footsteps of one of his idols, Adele, in composing and performing the theme tune for a James Bond film, with his song 'Writing's on the Wall' becoming the theme for Bond's 24th outing Spectre, for which he won an Oscar.
Throughout 2016 Smith released photos and footage of himself in the studio working on a follow-up to his debut album and the first of a new batch of songs arrived in September with 'Too Good at Goodbyes', which debuted at No. 1 in the UK Singles Chart. This was followed in October by the announcement of the title and release date of his sophomore album, which arrives in stores today.
Who's producing it?
Longtime collaborator Jimmy Napes and Steve Fitzmaurice, both of whom worked on Smith's debut, are once again handling the majority of the production for his new album, although there are also credits for Timbaland, Emile Haynie and Channel Orange producer Malay, amongst others.
Any special guests?
Just the one guest performance on the new album courtesy of YEBBA, who appears on the album's eighth track 'No Peace'.
What does it sound like?
Although there have always been elements of R&B and soul to Smith's music, those influences really come to the fore on The Thrill of It All and are particularly evident on the album's lead-off single, 'Too Good For Goodbyes', a gradually building ballad that begins with just Smith's voice and an electric piano and ends with big string flourishes and huge-sounding gospel vocals.
That gospel influence is apparent on many of the other tracks on the new album too, especially on the Timbaland-produced 'Pray' and and on 'Burning', the latter co-produced by duo The Audibles.
On the whole, The Thrill of It All is a fairly downtempo affair – not that his debut was packed with dancefloor bangers – while lyrically speaking many of the sings on the new album tackle the familiar themes of loneliness and unrequited love that populated much of In the Lonely Hour.
Does it deliver?
If Smith's debut left you an emotional wreck in floods of tears, then it's probably fair to say that its follow-up will have a similar effect. The 2017 edition of Sam Smith retains all the delicate, heartfelt vulnerability that made the song son his debut so compelling, but at the same time he sounds more assured as a vocalist and there are signs here that he's maturing as a songwriter too.
Time will tell if the new album will be as well-received as his last, but it seems like Smith has plenty more in the tank as an artist and on The Thrill of It All he continues to grow into his considerable potential to be a true great.