Tuesday 8th April 2013 is a day that will stay in my mind forever. It was the day that I saw Emeli Sande at London’s Hammersmith Apollo and it was the first time I witnessed the sublime talent that is, Sam Smith.
Many artists that support headline acts at gigs will never make it at the top and are lost in the myriad of forgotten musicians. But this young man was different. His stage presence suggested a natural shyness and then, when he began to sing, a stunned silence fell upon the room as his voice encapsulated the entire audience.
Trawling through iTunes after the concert in search of a song, I came across ‘Lay Me Down’, which I had the privilege of hearing earlier that night. It is a song telling of an absent lover and the honest, heartfelt words, (“I don’t want to be here if I can’t be with you tonight”) are the perfect complement to Smith’s angelic tones.
I saw him perform again in February this year at his sold out Shepherds Bush Empire concert; just a stone’s throw from the Apollo. The rapturous reception he received on taking the stage was unlike anything I had ever seen at the intimate west London venue. The fact that Smith was is genuinely humbled by the audience’s support for his music only added to his ever-growing popularity – on both sides of the Atlantic.
This week (26 May) saw the long-awaited release of the 22-year-old’s debut album, In The Lonely Hour. Along with the chart-topping singles (Money on My Mind//Stay With Me//La La La), the flawless LP, inspired by “my lonely moments”, features a stripped down version of ‘Latch’ – the 2012 single that catapulted both Smith and dance duo Disclosure into the spotlight. Unrequited love is an on-going theme on the album; ‘Not In That Way’ and ‘I’m Not The Only One’ just two about being spurned by a would-be lover. ‘Restart’ exudes 80s pop vibes whilst the aforementioned ‘Lay Me Down’ completes the somewhat melancholic track listing of the album; the solitary criticism being lack of thematic variety. An extremely safe debut but remarkable nonetheless.