Brit Singer Sam Smith Makes a Promising Debut with ‘In the Lonely Hour’

Album Review

Sam Smith

In the Lonely Hour

(Capitol Records)

Not to be confused with the terrific British brewery, this soul/R&B/pop singer is already hugely successful in the U.K. where this album came out at the end of last month and battled Coldplay's Ghost Stories for the spot at the top of the charts. With any luck, that success will translate stateside. The guy's a helluva singer. Album opener "Money on My Mind" immediately announces his unique vocal phrasing. His quivering vocals take center stage on tracks such as "Good Thing" and "Leave Your Lover," both of which feature some rather overwrought string arrangements. The gospel arrangement on "Stay with Me" is a bit much too. Smith is at his best when he really lets loose, which he successfully does on "Like I Can" and "Lay Me Down," songs about unrequited love that come off as genuine confessions of self-doubt.