The singer’s new album feels intimate, but seems overall divided at which direction it wants to take.
While it has to be said Sam Smith’s latest album still contains tracks with soulful quality that many of us have come to expect, as a whole ‘ Gloria’ is an album that tries to reach out to a new audience by combining these soulful aspects with more of a dance vibe. This works to an extent and you are left with an album that is always intriguing to listen to but at the same time it feels as though it is a bit all over the place when it comes to the direction that it wants to take.
The album eases the listener in gently, with ‘Love Me More’ – a song that hits the heart with purpose – particularly with lyrics such as ‘Have you ever felt like being somebody else?’ really striking a chord in terms of the singer really empathising with any listener going through mental health problems or struggling to figure out who they are. It is a powerful song, with its straight talking lyrics and simplicity melody wise that makes the listener sit up and pay attention.
This is just one song of a few on this album which showcases what Sam Smith is good at: creating songs that are relatable for many. ‘Perfect’ for example once again asks questions about what it means to be perfect and how it can mean different things to different people – explained through a very contemporary way.
But then elsewhere, the album takes a bit of a swerve in direction – with tracks such as’ Unholy’ and ‘Gimme’ with a bit more of an edge to them that is completely unexpected. While showing a different side to what Sam Smith can achieve they feel just a little bit jarring in the context of the album as a whole – they feel as though they belong on a completely different album. This is not to say that they are without merit, I can see how and why they will be popular songs individually – being bold as they are.
‘I’m Not Here to Make Friends’ is one of the most uplifting songs on the album and is certainly a highlight. Infused with a disco vibe, it shows Smith as a singer who is more relaxed about exposing different aspects of their singing and the type of music they want to make going forward.
But for me, it is songs such the lovely duet with Ed Sheeran on ‘Who We Love’ and ‘How to Cry’ that really gets to the heart of the singer and how they want to continue to express their views through thought-provoking lyrics on songs that have been expertly put together.
‘Gloria’ is an album that is concise and despite perhaps being torn as to whether it is a soul or dance album, it has plenty of songs that you can enjoy listening to over and over again.
By Emma Clarendon