Sam Smith • “Stay With Me” • In The Lonely Hour • Capitol • US Release Date: June 17, 2014 (album)
Okay, let’s get this out of the way first; Sam Smith seems to be pop music’s next big thing. The 22-year old is the latest singer from Britain looking to breakthrough in the United States. This year alone, Britain has brought in some sensational pop/urban talent stateside with John Newman (Tribute) and Daley (Days & Nights). For as much critical acclaim as both those talented young men have received, Sam Smith could be the most likely to breakthrough and succeed.
The singer has slowly and steadily been elevating his profile and has two notable hits helping him out. One of those is “Latch”, in which Smith is the featured vocalist with Disclosure, a Grammy-nominated electronic duo (debut album Settle would loseBest Dance/Electronica Album to eventual album of the year winner Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories). The bigger hit is Smith’s current single, “Stay With Me”.
First things first, I have to get this out. Does anybody else sense a parallel to another British pop/R&B singer from, oh twenty-five years ago or so? If you catch the drift, I’m referencing George Michael, who broke through tremendously stateside with album Faith, which would eventually be awarded the prestigious Grammy for Album of the Year. I’m not saying that Smith and Michael are one and the same – they’re not – but in some respects, the buzz that Smith is receiving seems like a repeat of history. If “Stay With Me” as well as Smith’s EP Nirvana are any indication of what Smith will unveil on debut LP In The Lonely Hour, then folks, we have a true juggernaut on our hands.
In The Lonely Hour may already raise some eyebrows for folks, given its conception, or a specific part of its conception. Smith revealed the album was about him being in love with a guy who didn’t love him back. For some folks – those more traditional, likely the talking point of Smith’s rationale is the revelation that he is gay. While pop music is a bit more of an accepting genre where sexuality is concerned, it is still no cakewalk. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised in the least – I thought Smith might be gay. Ultimately, sexuality aside, In That Lonely Hour likely should be relatable to anyone who has loved and that love hasn’t been reciprocated back. That is by no means a hetero- nor homosexual issue, but rather a shared experience by almost anybody at some point in their lives. “Stay With Me” epitomizes the sentiment that In The Lonely Hour will convey upon its U.S. release on June 17th.
“Guess it’s true, I’m not good at a one night stand,” sings a reflective, plaintive Smith on the first verse. “But I still need love cause I’m just a man…I don’t want you to leave, will you hold my hand?” On the second verse, Smith continues to question his love/relationship issues: “Why am I so emotional? / No it’s not a good look, gain some self control.” Still, much like the first verse, the second ends with yearning for pleasure, as Smith asks his lover to “…lay with me so it doesn’t hurt”. Essentially, on this simplistic yet touching song, Smith is open about his deficiencies in regards to hooking up and more bigger-picture love, but he still needs to have “someone to love” and fulfill what he needs.
Is “Stay With Me” ‘brand new’? No, not by any means – we’ve been singing songs about failed one-night stands, bad love, and the need for love forever and ever. That said, “Stay With Me,” conveys the sentiment and message pretty well, putting it on a level where anyone can relate to it. If you are a skeptic, don’t let sexuality cloud your mind on this cut or Smith’s upcoming debut album; this is good stuff right here. Smith definitely has the pipes and emotional delivery to captivate by all means. The backing choir definitely doesn’t hurt his cause either – throw the production in that mix as well. If anything, “Stay With Me” further amplifies excitement for In The Lonely Hour. You get only blessings from me Sam – blessings.