Sam Smith - Gloria Music Album Reviews

Sam Smith - Gloria Music Album Reviews
Sam Smith remains a bit of a pop paradox, a trailblazing figure who often settles into well-trodden songwriting.  

It’s awards season, so I’d like to nominate Sam Smith for 2022’s Best Celebrity Cameo in a Magazine Profile. The publication was New York Magazine; the subject was Joel Kim Booster, the writer and star of last year’s tender-hearted Pride and Prejudice flip Fire Island. Booster and his friends are returning home from a Silver Lake gay bar when he ducks into the bathroom and emerges to announce, “Sam Smith is coming.” Smith is introduced to the reader as “the first gay person to think they were the first gay person to win an Oscar during an acceptance speech,” and upon their arrival, they tell the party about their plans to visit Anne Boleyn’s grave at the Tower of London as a little birthday treat. This unexpected appearance in Booster’s world also articulates Smith’s strange blend of genuine trailblazing and cultural conservatism. They’re a proud, unapologetic non-binary pop star and an old soul with a taste for the maudlin. Who else would “stick up for the girls of English history” while partying with queer Hollywood royalty?

You can hear both the freedom and the fustiness on Gloria, an album that feels assertive and diverse when held up against a career that’s hewed so closely to pop’s middle of the road. Smith has described Gloria as being defined by “emotional, sexual, and spiritual liberation,” and if you’ve followed Smith for the last decade, you understand this kind of unrepentant self-love has been hard-won. The histrionic powerhouse who once begged a one-night stand to stick around has transformed into a playful lover and a student of queer history, sampling RuPaul,  Divine, Paris Is Burning, and soundbites from early Pride parades. But these authentic expressions of self share space with a closing track that’s basically Ed Sheeran’s “Same Love,” and that’s the puzzle of their career: Smith’s taste level and writing haven’t kept pace with their comfort in their own skin. 

Gloria does offer plenty of the one fundamental pleasure you can expect on any Sam Smith album: the thrill of a gifted vocalist exploring and subverting their material on a phrase-by-phrase basis. Here it’s the confidence of Smith’s delivery that place the album into a slightly higher echelon within their catalog. Sometimes it’s a chorus or a verse that knocks you back on your heels: the graceful, fluid runs closing out the subdued “No God,” or the viscous and husky pre-chorus on single “Gimme.” In other spots, you’re given the same jolt you might feel hearing a singer like Adele turn her talents to lovers’ rock or chanson: “Who knew they could do that?” Gloria flips between hyperpop, country, dancehall, disco, 2-step, and intimate, Kehlani-esque R&B, though the range covered by the material ends up more notable than any sparkling example of genre tourism.

Smith weaves the disparate threads tying Gloria together with surprising versatility, though it’s the songs in the latter categories—the ones suitable for a lounge or a club—that are strongest. “Lose You” is a pulsing, urgent spin on a Smith breakup anthem, channeling their desperation into dancefloor euphoria. The molasses-thick “Six Shots” elevates a standard alcohol metaphor with languid, mood-lit sensuality. Best of all is “I’m Not Here to Make Friends,” a whirlwind of grown-up lust that evokes George Michael—a clear predecessor—circa  “Fastlove” and “Outside.” It also suggests that between this song and the sinewy 2018 single “Promises,” the collaborator who best understands Smith’s talents might be vanilla club-pop king Calvin Harris.

The question of collaboration is an interesting one for Smith, because Gloria’s saggy moments largely involve other voices. The barrier-smashing single “Unholy”—the first song by openly non-binary and trans artists to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100—flips a critical cliché by sounding worse in an album-length context, its transgressive glee scanning as shallow and theatrical up against more grounded, mature material. Smith clearly feels a kinship with Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez, but her two features on Gloria—the aforementioned “Gimme” and the drab, mid-tempo “Perfect”—are anodyne at best and grating at worst. Ending the album with the Sheeran duet “Who We Love” feels like a step back after Smith’s most nuanced dispatches from a queer life to date. The album’s interludes and line-to-line writing suggest a perspective more nuanced than trite scenes like “Holding hands in the street/No need to be discreet,” and yet that’s the final note sounded on Gloria. 

It’s remarkable we’ve reached this point at all: an artist whose writing has long tended toward the bland and impersonal has grown into a vision and identity that can be compromised by mediocre features. Wanting to hear more from Smith and Smith alone is one of their strongest arguments yet for true stardom. We’re now familiar with Sam Smith as an emotionally generous diva who likes to dance, loves out loud, and can’t resist a gratuitous string section or a gospel choir. It’s a coherent identity, and it leaves the Gloria listener with mixed emotions. Recent hit single aside, Smith has somehow never felt further from pop’s molten core. It’s still a pleasure to watch a singer who once consigned themselves to lovesick, gender-neutral ballads spread their wings. 
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Sam Smith - Gloria Music Album Reviews Sam Smith - Gloria Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on February 03, 2023 Rating: 5


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