Sam Smith’s debut album ‘In The Lonely Hour’ took the world by storm when it was released last year, with songs “Lay Me Down,” “Stay With Me,” and “I’m Not The Only One,” being highlights of what was already a golden album. Now, Smith has re-released the album as a special edition called ‘In The Lonely Hour: Drowning Shadows Edition’ with two discs. The first disc is a deluxe of the original album, and features all aforementioned songs by Sam Smith. The second disc, however, features one new song, a few covers including an acoustic, a live performance, and a handful of duets of his most beloved singles.
The new song – “Drowning Shadows” – is a typical piano ballad of Smith’s: melodic, lyrical, and strong. The string textures are simply stunning, and Smith seems to love showing off his vocal range in this particular song. If this song was on the original album, Smith would have had another hit. Likewise, “Nirvana,” comes from Smith’s 2014 EP, and has a robust rhythm throughout alongside electronically manipulated electric guitar. It is a very good song, but it’s also understandable why it didn’t make the final cut for the original album. It’s not exactly Smith’s style, although he does adapt to the song and performs it very well.
Smith covers three songs on the album, the first of which is Amy Winehouse’s “Love is a Losing Game.” With just a piano and sparse violins to perform the roles of jazz trumpets, the attention is all on Smith’s voice. He sings with a delicacy which grows more powerful as the song progresses. I personally feel it’s almost a warming tribute to the late Amy Winehouse which Smith conveys perfectly. The next cover is 80’s dance classic “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston, except the thin acoustic piano chords make this cover completely the opposite. It is a truly beautiful cover which underlines the control and maturity of Smith’s upper vocal range. The final cover is of Disclosure’s “Omen,” which Smith featured in in 2012 and shot him into the spotlight. The honky-tonk keyboards as an accompaniment is a complete step-back from the modern club anthem, and the purity of Smith’s voice instead of electronic manipulation reiterates Smith’s talent as a singer. The album also features Smith’s live performance of “Latch” by Disclosure, and although it’s the original dance mix, Smith’s voice is spectacular live, and if you doubted the singer before listening to this song, you most certainly wouldn’t after.
Finally, the three duets on the album are all Smith’s beloved top singles. “Stay With Me,” features Mary J. Blige, but whilst it is a nice touch to introduce the famous singer-songwriter, Smith blows her out of the water, accentuating that “Stay With Me” will always be his song. “I’m Not The Only One,” features A$AP Rocky who adds some rap to the song. This is an interesting take on the song, with the rap adding some more depth to the song. Dedicated fans of Smith will brush it off in a second, but those who are more open-minded would enjoy this version. Finally, the Red Nose Day 2015 version of “Lay Me Down” features fellow crooner John Legend, known for “All of Me,” fame. The harmonies of both men are fantastic in the song and that creates a powerful version of the original which is debatably the best song on the new disc.
Sam Smith is playing to his strengths with the re-release of his album. He hasn’t gone overboard with drastic changes to win more fans, nor has he piled new songs galore onto the album in hope that one will pick up with another number one hit. My only criticisms are that new song “Writings on the Wall” does not feature in the album, and perhaps Smith has focused solely on his fans rather than spreading his wings slightly in hope of picking up a few more. That said, I see no reason why he needs any more fans; he’s already solidified himself as a modern classic.