The trailblazer that is Sam Smith


With an immense fluster of desperation after hearing the angelic vocals of Britain’s own Sam Smith would leave any listener in a melodramatic haze of sorrow and pleasure. According to Billboard, Smith’s latest body of work, ‘The Thrill Of It All,’ lands him with his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 chart. Smith almost embodies a slightly higher pitched John Legend with streams of tasteful soul residing within his captivating vibrato; making a No. 1 debut not surprising.

A trailblazer for the LGBT community, Smith captivates an oftentimes callous entertainment industry, not only with his exquisite voice, but in being both gay and non-binary. According to People, Smith unapologetically came out as gender-fluid, in which he does not identify as a cisgender (denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex) male. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, “Most people – including most transgender people – are either male or female. But some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of “man” or “woman,” or “male” or “female.” For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender. Some people’s gender changes over time.”

Ultimately, Smith is able to advocate his differences in challenging traditional norms of sexuality and gender; opening the door for incoming LGBT artists.

Opening the album with his leading single, ‘Too Good At Goodbyes’, Smith enchants fans with his lethargic tone and bass driven runs. Just in a matter of seconds, this sentimental ballad will compel you to disregard your internal feelings and neglect the overbearing pain of heartbreak; almost becoming ‘Too Good’ at enclosing yourself to future lovers. Gradually the song shifts from a bleak, gut-wrenching fairytale into a head-bouncing, upbeat masterpiece. Completely overlooking the genuine message of the song, Smith astonishes you with a change, that revolutionized the track perfectly. Otherwise, saying goodbye to this song would have been effortless.

‘Say It First’ is an accurate representation of invariably needing someone to offer you validation within your well being. Smith boasts lines like, “Come on baby say it first. I need to hear you say those words. If I’m all that you desire, I promise they’ll be fire.” Clearly longing for his lover to boldly make the first attempt, this song impersonates a cliche Disney fantasy; no substance or pivotal meaning. Retro jukeboxesque, ‘ One Last Song’ presents a cheery beat that’s somewhat mature, but still timeless in itself. Smith fathoms how challenging it is to scorn past trauma and reminisces on the times, he and his lover both shared. He bestows to his lover ‘one last song’, in order to truly achieve closure. Promptly grab your tissues because Smith does not disappoint with this somber, yet animated piece.

Emblem of struggle and acceptance. ‘HIM’ advocates for the LGBT community and how strenuous it is to contest with societal acknowledgment and an inner approval of their own sexuality. Prominent lines like, “Don’t you try and tell me that God doesn’t care for us, It is him I love, it is him I love,” epitomizes Smith’s concerns over faith dictating ‘same love’ — a firm rebuttal to those who advocate that it is unjust. Surrender your inhibitions and become vindicated in your own self-expression, as ‘HIM’ compels you to live freely.

Track 8, ‘No Peace’, is a stellar gem in a conglomerate of despair. Smith, featuring New York’s own, Yebba (Abbey Smith), has the most elegant voice – an angel at that. Yebba could sing a meager word and it still would remain smooth and charming. Smith and Yebba dispense their emotional baggage all over the track-conquering themes of fame, heartbreak, and Yebba’s mother’s traumatic death by suicide. Just by being aware of the dismay encapsulated within the song – bears a whole new meaning to restlessness. ‘No Peace’ more like ‘Beautiful Mixture.’

Track 10, ‘Pray’, is the second leading single off the album and Smith cordially introduces an unfamiliar, yet prevalent message to the tracklist. Alluring piano chords, emphasize the relevance this track embodies; that in a world with a profuse amount of discrimination, inequality, and violence, simple prayers for betterment are needed. Smith felt it was vital to convey the world around him as he gradually becomes more aware of the hardships certain communities endure, according to Genius. Anyone that listens to this song can sense the distressing ambiance of Smith’s perspective on society and his continual pleading to “Pray for a glimmer of hope.”

Track 12, ‘The Thrill Of It All’, commemorates the emotional disturbance he has experienced due to the fallout of a previous relationship. Notably in lines like, “I guess I got lost in the moment. I guess I got lost in the fall. I guess I got lost in your heartbeat. In the thrill of it all,” highlights his perspective on his internal dilemmas and the bountiful regret that follows. Though poise in word choice, Smith becomes a broken record almost, reiterating identical themes of infatuation and heartbreak, which is mundane to a certain extent.

Finishing the album with ‘One Day At A Time’, Smith cherishes a steady life, with minimal distractions and chill vibes. He swiftly changed his disposition, with lines, “Let’s turn off our phones tonight. And rely on the stars. We’ve been so lost lately. We forgot who we are,” indicating Smith’s reliance on his family and friends to acquire true peace.

Throughout his body of work, Smith has contested with a dramatic and romanticized version of loss. Complementary to Adele, he solely captures fans with climatic narratives of love, misery, and acceptance. Could Smith revolutionize himself to tackle these same themes with a brooding and vengeful outlook? Taking notes from Beyonce’s iconic and game-changing ‘Lemonade,’ would contrast with Smith’s current image, but prove to reveal the depths in which Smith can go.

Until then, sit back and marinate in an impassioned listening experience; both phenomenal and beautifully executed.”