On the Horizon: Gently Laying Down the Gauntlet, Sam Smith.

On the Horizon: Gently Laying Down the Gauntlet, Sam Smith.

You could practically see the tumbleweed insouciantly rolling through this place yesterday, the reasons for which numbered two and turned out to be somewhat antithetical: on the one hand, there was a not insubstantial amount to say on Kraftwerk’s thoroughly spectacular Computer World show in the Turbine Hall on Monday, and Tuesday then brought with it a nervy though ultimately entertaining (slash momentarily excruciating) stint on the BBC Radio 1 Review Show, of all places. Still gently baffled by that one.

I’d been wanting to write something hyperbolic on this one for a little while, although given that Latch vocalist Sam Smith was also at hand to disclose (ahem) his verdict on various so-called bloggy numbers last night, I staved off until a time at which I couldn’t be sure whether our paths would cross quite so closely again. And now seems as apt a time as any: having only recently picked up his P45 from a barjob he reticently confessed to having been not overwhelmingly proficient at, his solo career begins in earnest with the release of début single Lay Me Down this month. Expected the 17th, it’s one of those immediately striking ballads you struggle to believe wasn’t penned years, if not decades ago: musically reflective of Smith’s jazzier beginnings, lyrically it concerns catharsis and the definitive letting go of a loved one. “I don’t want to be here if I can’t be with you tonight”, its chorus concludes and stirring as its elegiac words may be, it’s his vocal which truly stands out above all: a refined croon, it’s utterly astonishing. The sort that – and I say this in the most positive respect – you’ll most probably have become accustomed to being footnoted by that irrepressibly fervid whooping of any which television audience. Fitting, then, that it should’ve sounded so jubilant in the Radio 1 studios late yesterday night…

Sam Smith’s SoundCloud.

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