Lyrical Review: Sam Smith, ‘In the Lonely Hour’


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British R&B singer Sam Smith comes in swinging for debut album In the Lonely Hour. Most of the effort is about all about one-sided love – “non-love” as Alicia Keys once put it on her Unplugged album (2005). While Smith may have been on the wrong side of love, his album is relatable to any number of people who have experienced love troubles and failed relationships. Rather than your standard track-by-track review, Smith’s latest album will be analyzed and interpreted through it’s lyrical content. Specifically, one or two key lyrics will be chosen from songs throughout the album. Here we go!

“Cause I am not a puppet, I will work against your strings”

– Verse two, “Money on My Mind”

“Money on My Mind” is a track about Smith’s ascension to fame, as is a common fixture on any number of artist’s albums – particular debut albums. On this particular lyric, Smith suggests three things: (1) he won’t let his record label control him like a “puppet” (2) he won’t let fame ruin or change him and (3) he won’t let money control him.

 

“I have made a decision not to answer your calls / cause I put everything out there and I got nothing at all”

– Bridge, “Good Thing”

 Basically, judging by this lyric, Smith gave his all to his lover, but he got nothing in return. Since he’s getting no love, he’s not about to answer any phone calls because his lover did him wrong. Word.

 

“Why am I so emotional? Not it’s not a good look, gain some self-control…”

– Verse two, “Stay With Me”

Guys who cry are generally frowned upon in today’s society, even if stereotypes aren’t necessarily fair or accurate. Here, regardless of stereotyping or society, Smith acknowledges the fact he’s overemotional following an empty one-night stand is shameful and he needs to get it together.

 

“Pack up and leave everything / don’t you see what I can bring? / Can’t keep this beating heart at bay / set my midnight sorrow free…”

– Chorus, “Leave Your Lover”

Basically, Smith here seems thinks he offers a lot as a potential partner in a relationship. Possibly the lyrics exaggerates things, but when one is in love, infatuation seems to be amplified and over-amplified greatly. The lyrics are oxymoronic, namely when Smith sings “Pack up” yet follows up with “…leave everything.” Go figure!

“Still I refrain from talking at you, talking on / you know me well, I don’t explain”

– Pre-chorus, “I’ve Told You Now”

Sam Smith is in a similar situation to previous song “Good Thing.” Basically, Smith has been an open book to his lover, and he doesn’t need to elaborate about anymore or anything else.   In other words, Smith has given his all, so he’s going to stop talking and trying to force anymore through his honesty and openness.

 

 “Why are you looking down all the wrong roads? / When mine is the heart and the salt of the soul / there may be lovers who hold out their hands / but they’ll never love you like I can…”

– Chorus, “Like I Can”

On “Like I Can” – at least the excerpt from above, Smith questions why his lover is looking everywhere else but towards him for a successful relationship? Smith flat out tells his ex-flame that no one else can do it like he can.

 

 “Can’t you see that I am yours? / So will you be life support?”

– Chorus, “Life Support” 

Love often calls for desperation, particularly when it seems to be fading. At this point, Smith seems to be begging and forcing things within a relationship that is a no-go.

 

“Told me not to cry when you were gone / but the feeling’s overwhelming, it’s much too strong”

– Pre-chorus, “Lay Me Down

Remember during “Stay With Me” how Smith said being so emotional wasn’t a “good look?” Well, after the emotional trials of the relationship, Smith just can’t help himself because he’s so out of sorts after losing someone he truly adored.

 

 “…I’ll take care of you / I don’t want to be here if I can’t be with you tonight”

– Chorus, “Lay Me Down”

This one’s a no-brainer folks – the only reason he wishes to be where he is, is as long as his boo is there with him.

Lyrically, In the Lonely Hour proves to be a very personal album.   Some of the lyrics contain more depth, while others are simple, yet easily accessible to anyone. Perhaps In the Lonely Hour isn’t a modern masterpiece per se, but it definitely gives Smith a superb first impression, highlighting his awesome musical talent.

Sam Smith • In the Lonely Hour • Capitol • US Release Date: June 17, 2014
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