Reviews

Sam Smith “Gloria” Album Review

Gloria

Sam Smith

  • Genre: Pop
  • Date: 27 Jan, 2023
  • Content: Not-explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 13
  • A Capitol Records UK / EMI release; ℗ 2023 Universal Music Operations Limited

“Gloria” sounds like the beginning of a new age of sound and musicality for Sam, building on the popularity and sonic change of their critically acclaimed 2020 predecessor, “Love Goes.” Although the Londoner’s distinctive soulful, almost otherworldly voice remains, this is a punchier, more seductive, and more ecstatic offering from them.

Smith’s fourth album, decadent, dance-fueled, and defiant, not only displays their incredible vocal flexibility and musical talent but also reveals a more edgy and fun side to their personality and music. They seem to be having more fun and adopting a more “zero f*cks” attitude than ever on this anthemic, eclectic powerhouse of a project.

Album Cover Art

Sam Smith &Quot;Gloria&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, December 6, 2023

Looking better than ever, a blonde Sam is topless for the cover of this album. They are also making bold statements about their sexuality with the tattoo inscribed on their right arm, which shows the heads of two men locking lips. The same energy is nurtured and carried into the curation of Gloria. Oh, and the dangling anchor-shaped earring with the pearl tip is giving all it should.

Tracks and Features

The album deceptively starts with the gospel-influenced self-care song “Love Me More,” whose inspiring but occasionally dark lyrics are set over a sincere, sing-along tune that would fit better on a John Legend or Jon Batiste record—or, to be honest, a TV ad. Then, however, three R&B-influenced songs range from the low-key disco of “Lose You” to the seductive “Perfect,” a duet with Canadian-Colombian singer Jessie Reyez, kick the album into high gear. This song captures one of the album’s themes, self-acceptance.

When Smith’s sauntering smash duet with Kim Petras, “Unholy,” released last fall, rips wide the door and thunders in, the smooth groove of those three songs lurch to a halt. Instead, it has a sneaky rhythm and a rousing, erupting chorus that sounds like a cross between an Arabic melody and a sea chanty. It is a throbbing pop-dance track about a family man’s adventures in unsafe sex. Since Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s “WAP,” it is the most sexually explicit song to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100. Still, it is also one of the oddest and most innovative musical works to do so in recent memory.

How do you follow such a track? Of course, with the soft acoustic ballad “How to Cry.” The album’s flow is masterful, ebbing and flowing in mood and sound from the post-coital slow jam “Six Shots” to the pinging electro single “Gimme” and culminating with the irresistible disco anthem “I’m Not Here to Make Friends,” which may very well be Smith’s next No. 1 and the song of this summer. It’s a collaboration with Reyez and DJ heavyweight Calvin Harris, and it has glittering strings and a Chic beat.

The album’s title track, “Gloria,” a hymn-like song with only vocals recorded with a full choir in the medieval-era church Smith frequented as a child, immediately follows that intensity peak. Although they’ve referred to it as “my queer anthem,” the lyrics are pretty elliptical and counter to the music. The song begins with just the choir before Smith’s voice soars in, conjuring images of angels on a church ceiling. The album ends with “We Love Who We Love,” a tender duet with Ed Sheeran that leaves the listener with the lines “So let go/ You don’t know better than your heart knows/ We love who we love,” doubtless on purpose.

 Tracklist

NO

TITLE

ARTIST

TIME

1Love Me MoreSam Smith3:23
2No GodSam Smith3:17
3Hurting InterludeSam Smith0:18
4Lose YouSam Smith3:10
5PerfectSam Smith & Jessie Reyez3:51
6UnholySam Smith & Kim Petras2:36
7How To CrySam Smith2:40
8Six ShotsSam Smith2:30
9GimmeSam Smith, Koffee & Jessie Reyez2:49
10Dorothy’s InterludeSam Smith0:08
11I’m Not Here To Make FriendsSam Smith3:49
12GloriaSam Smith1:50
13Who We LoveSam Smith & Ed Sheeran2:42

Album Theme

Sam Smith has never been afraid to expose their innermost thoughts and feelings, but on their fourth album, “Gloria,” these feelings have undergone a metamorphosis, shifting from self-doubt, despair, and tears to self-acceptance, self-discovery, and even a reawakening for the singer that is evident throughout the entire album.

Production Credits

Anju Blaxx, Blake Slatkin, Calvin Harris, Cirkut, David Odlum, ILYA, Jimmy Napes, Los Hendrix, NEZ, Omer Fedi, Sam Smith, StarGate & Steve Mac produced the album.

Stream

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