STREET SOUNDS: Easy listening

British singer/songwriter, Sam Smith, continues the classic and long running tradition of the English soul singer.

On his second album, The Thrill Of It All, Smith continues to dig deep into the melancholy with tracks like Burning, but makes sorrow into a unifying force to be felt by all.

Smith’s music and themes bring forth deep yearning as a common denominator. He achieves his message through the force of his voice – it’s an expressive instrument, reminiscent of Aaron Neville’s. While Smith’s music has different roots than Neville’s, both vocalists are singing from the same place. Mud’s the same, whether from the Thames or the Mississippi.

The Thrill Of It All runs on ballads that lay feelings bare. Pray is an example of why the style is a potent force for Smith.

The music is dark but builds subtly. It’s based on simple piano chords that invoke the light and shade of a classic soul-style ballad.

Most importantly it’s not formulaic. It’s a performance piece and it’s clear that Smith is connected to his muse here. There’s a sense of drama but it’s understated and inspired.

The mood is more reflective than his previous release and the sound is sparser and darker but this is easy listening at its deepest.

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