Album review: ‘The Thrill of It All’ by Sam Smith

The Thrill of it All album cover. (Capitol Records)

Sam Smith’s second studio album serves as a hymnal, praising his new-found confidence and condemning the former lovers who wronged him. The album, titled The Thrill of It All, takes the soul, spirit and sound Smith’s fans have come to love to the next level. The 14-track project shows the young artist’s growth in more ways than one.

Smith made a name for himself in the electronic music scene when he was featured on tracks with DJs Disclosure and Naughty Boy. However, since 2014 he has proven his soulful voice is more than just a feature. The 25-year-old British singer-songwriter is a four-time Grammy award winner. Smith also won an Academy Award for best original song. He has five songs off his debut album on the Billboard top 10. From top hits, such as “Stay with Me” and “I’m Not the Only One” Smith has made a name for himself by singing about his own heartache.

The Thrill of It All boasts multiple tracks about the singer’s sexuality. Smith has been out as a proud gay man since the release of his debut album in 2014. The pop icon wanted to leave no question as to who he was singing his heartbreak ballads about. He even addressed his sexuality in his 2015 Oscar acceptance speech.

The song “HIM” begins with a soulful choir harmony similar to what you’d hear in a gospel hymn. Mixed with a series of bellowing high notes and emotional lyrics, “HIM” serves as a confessional for Smith’s coming out. Smith sings, “Say I shouldn’t be here but I can’t give up his touch / It is him I love, it is him / Don’t you try to tell me God doesn’t care for us.” The lyrics continue to address the controversy surrounding the place for LGBTQ+ people in religion.

The religious undertones continue throughout the album with tracks “Pray” and “Nothing Left for You.” Both ballads contain the same gospel hymn element with the same unified choir accompanying Smith. In interviews Smith is quoted saying that he wrote “Pray” after visiting children in Mosul, Iraq. The visit spurred the emotion and lyrics for the song. In “Pray” Smith serenades the listener with lyrics like, “I’m gonna pray / Pray for a glimmer of hope.” This is the beginning of the singer-songwriter’s maturation into lyrics not solely surrounding love.

The album addresses topics new to the singer’s style such as religion and the growth the singer has had in relationships. However, Smith does not disappoint by delivering multiple songs following his now trademark style of the heartbreak ballad. Tracks “One Last Song” and “Baby You Make Me Crazy” are written for eating ice cream in your bed and cursing your ex. With a soulful twang both tracks preach messages of overcoming the pain of a breakup. In “Baby You Make Me Crazy”, Smith belts, “Why’d you have to fill my heart with sorrow? /Save me, make it all hazy / So I don’t think about you ‘til tomorrow.”

The Thrill of It All not only shows Smith’s progress as a songwriter but as a vocalist as well. The track “The Thrill of It All” boasts his ability to transition from a high falsetto to a deeper tenor voice all in just over three minutes. His voice is unparalleled to any other male in the pop scene today. With only one feature, “No Peace ft. YEBBA,” this LP is solely a compilation of Smith’s work since 2014. The Thrill of It All has a song for every mood.

Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Charlotte Spaeth at

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