In house: Best home entertainment - music, books, DVDs
New music: Sam Smith, In The Lonely Hour
Just prior to this release, Sam Smith was akin to a student with degrees and diplomas out the ying yang, some work experience but no real job tenure. The 22-year-old was bestowed the BBC's Sound of 2014 at the start of the year, along with the Critics' Choice BRIT. He has a number one single under his belt alongside Naughyt Boy and has worked with the brilliant Disclosure. In The Lonely Hour is Smith's full-time application
It is Smith's own single releases, rather than his collaborations that point the way to what lies on this, his debut album. He paints himself as a perpetual underdog in a fight for an unnamed's love. The gospel-tinged ballad Stay With Me is the prime example of this. There are no musical histrionics; Leave Your Lover is built upon a simple acoustic guitar/piano/ strings template that's mirrored elsewhere on the record. Smith's voice is very much the star of the show.
I'm Not The Only One could well be mistaken for a John Legend track. Lay Me Down ain't far off Luther Vandross. While Life Support wouldn't look out of place in the hands of Beyoncé. Smith, however, has made each his own.
In The Lonely Hour is an assured debut, and the impression is there's more in the tank.
First published in INSIDER Magazine, exclusive to Thursday's Irish Independent