Album hashtag: #vocalexcellence
There’s only one male vocalist who blew the world away with their debut album – and that’s Sam Smith. His ‘In The Lonely Hour’ album may be the most somber moment on TUA’s top 50, but it’s definitely warranted. The notion of breakup that surrounds Sam’s ‘Hour’ paints a beautifully vivid picture of celebrities experiencing true emotions and real-life situations. He’s already received six Grammy nominations for 2015 and will likely win in each category. And to top that off, Sam’s vocals soar higher than anything released since Adele’s ‘21’ album – a compliment that’s very hard to come by. With Sam’s voice growing more iconic by the second, ‘Hour’ stands as the single best male vocal release of 2014.
Disclosure’s “Latch” served as the official introduction of Sam to America, despite the single being released internationally nearly two-and-a-half years ago. Sam, however, didn’t make a strong chart impact until the album’s third single “Stay With Me”, a song so epic that Mary J. Blige jumped on the remix to aid in its success. Every performance of the single has given “Stay” a steady charting on the Billboard Hot 100 since its release in April 2014. The A$AP Rocky-featured “I’m Not The Only One” gives new platforms to Sam’s ode to infidelity as he raps “divorces or court splits, decisions and choices / the Porsche or the fortress? Ignore it or forfeit”. As odd as it sounds to have a rapper feature on a Sam Smith song, it works incredibly well in terms of selling records.
“Lay Me Down” is an incredibly strong ballad about missing a loved one. The jazz elements that begin to build after the first verse is genuinely brilliant over Sam’s emotional vocals. In terms of mid- to uptempos, both “Money On My Mind” and “Like I Can” stand out as potential radio singles. “Money” was actually released prior to his biggest hit “Stay With Me”, but it didn’t resonate well stateside. The Two Inch Punch-produced track eschews notions of early James Brown with its slightly screamo “I got money on my mind” chorus. “Can” stands out as a pop/rock song on ‘Hour’. Sam’s vocals soar higher than ever when he harmonizes with the chorus – a true musical standout for those that may not be completely sold on his artistry.
Despite its somber moments, ‘Hour’ presents a solid body of work to a group of people that are very hard to impress (Americans). There isn’t a person in the music industry who isn’t blown away with Sam’s above-industry standard vocals. Album highlight “Life Support” features a segment of notes that no artist – dead or alive – could ever hit. The let-me-down-gently anthem “Not In That Way” is a pure, innocent moment on the album that truly encapsulates just how much emotion is put out through his storytelling. Whether he’s happy or sad, Sam will always deliver a quality vocal that will be revered for many years to come.