Sam Smith’s latest album, “Gloria,” not only shows Smith’s progression as an artist but how many risks they are willing to take in order to deliver an album that impacts many listeners. In an interview with the Rolling Stone, Smith described “Gloria” as a “queer love hymn” to themself and Gloria, which they described as their inner voice.
Since their debut album, “In the Lonely Hour,” (2014) Smith has been a prominent figure in the music industry and has represented the LGBTQ+ community with their music. According to Boy Sets Fire, Smith’s music is described as “sad pop.” However, “Gloria” infuses pop, techno and gospel music, making it a multidimensional piece.
The album starts off with “Love Me More,” an empowering track showcasing Smith’s self-love journey and the challenges they have faced. The track is accompanied by a pipe organ that follows behind a slow beat. The lyrics, “Have you ever felt like being somebody else / Feeling like the mirror isn’t good for your health / Every day I’m trying not to hate myself / But lately, it’s not hurtin’ like it did before / Maybe I am learning how to love me more,” allow the listeners to relate to Smith. The repetition of the lyrics, “Just a little bit (love me more),” along with Smith’s vocal layering and adlibs, magnifies the song’s message about self-love.
Despite “Lose You” being about a break-up, the electro-dance track will have listeners on their feet. The powerful lyrics match the intensity of the song as Smith puts their heart out.
“Gloria” features the artist Jessie Reyez on “Perfect” and “Gimme.” While some listeners might be concerned about repetition, the two songs completely contrast each other in style and themes. “Perfect” is similar to “Love Me More,” in regard to the theme of self-acceptance. The lyrics, “You like them crazy, do you / I’m crazy through and through / I wear my flaws like jewelry / And I’m dripping,” show Smith’s acceptance of their imperfections, which can inspire listeners to do the same. Reyez’s voice blends well with Smith and her adlibs do not take away from the song. However, her verse could have been stronger as it was just a repeat of Smith’s verse with a tiny bit of variation.
The second song, “Gimme,” has a fun reggae beat with Koffee’s clean verse being the cherry on top. While the track allows for all three artists to shine in their own way, Reyez does a great job of leading this song. Her voice can be addicting as she repeats “Gimme” throughout the song.
One highlight of the track is “Unholy,” which features Kim Petras. The song was released in September 2022 as the lead single of “Gloria.” Smith explores a more fun and vulgar side in this track. While some listeners may be turned off by how inappropriate the lyrics are, many might appreciate Smith for going out of the box in this track. While Smith stepped out of their comfort zone in this song, Petras was right at home as her verse felt natural and amplified the song.
“How To Cry” is a ballad reminiscent of Smith’s earlier songs, like “Lay Me Down” and “Stay With Me.” The song, accompanied by the guitar and Smith’s powerful voice, makes this track another highlight on the album. The lyrics, “I keep secrets from my friends at home / So embarrassed, I’ve been so alone / God, I’m over me protecting you,” clearly show how upset Smith was by this person’s lack of emotional awareness.
While only a minute and 50 seconds long, the song “Gloria” does a great job of taking the listener out of the album to enjoy a vocal masterpiece. Smith does not appear until the last 50 seconds of the song, but when they do, they easily blend in with the rest of the vocals. Whether the listener is religious or not, it is difficult to not deny the true beauty of this song.
The last song, “Who We Love,” features Ed Sheeran, an artist many listeners may be surprised to hear on this album. Like the rest of the features on this album, the song does a great job of bringing out the best in both artists. Sheeran’s influence on this song is obvious by its gentle nature, which is something Sheeran is known for. The lyrics are simple, which will allow the listener to easily understand the message of the song, which is about universal love.
“Gloria” allows listeners to see different sides of Smith. The album takes a few risks but does not stray too far away from Smith’s usual work. Smith’s comfortability with their artistry and sexuality is shown throughout the album in songs like “Unholy” and “Gimme.” At the same time, Smith is able to go back to their heart pulling roots in songs like “How to Cry” and “Who We Love.” Overall, “Gloria” is an album that will allow the listener to see many parts of Smith’s personality from sad to fun.