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SAM SINGS FOR
THE TIMES

Sam Smith is the subject of a perfectly timed in-depth profile in this Sunday’s New York Times, and the story has already been posted on nytimes.com, meaning this is not only a huge look but a sustained one as well.

In the colorfully written longform piece, titled “The Tear-Stained Confessions of Sam Smith” and crafted from an extensive interview, Taffy Brodesser-Akner does a great deal of armchair psychoanalysis, but she’s clearly engaged by the man and his music. In one pivotal paragraph, she connects the dots between the two:

“If In the Lonely Hour was the myopic look into the heart of a boy helplessly in love, then the new album, The Thrill of It All, is about a man who turns his gaze outward. ‘Midnight Train’ is a sad song about ending a relationship that was inspired by friends; ‘Palace,’ a sad song about whether or not love is worth it if it ends; ‘HIM,’ a sad story of an imagined boy in Mississippi coming out to his father. Some of the tracks are about Mr. Smith himself, including ‘Burning,’ a sad song about pining for a man who has left; and ‘One Last Song,’ a sad final ode to the man who was the subject of In the Lonely Hour. The new album won’t be a surprise to anyone familiar with the first one: The old-timey soul is still there. Mr. Smith decided long ago that his voice was the instrument: melisma, whispered baritones, surprise out-of-nowhere ultra-high falsetto, even a haunting, beautiful croak of longing sprinkled here and there. It is still prime music for ‘having sex with your sadness,’ as Mr. Smith said.”

For the most part, Brodesser-Akner opts to use the interview as source material for her storytelling rather than quoting Smith directly, but she does let one quote stand, as he addresses the public.

“The only thing I’d like everyone to know is I’m really sorry if I say the wrong things,” Smith says. “I don’t want to offend anyone, and my intentions are genuinely pure and good. I’m still trying to figure shit out and I’d like to be treated like a human. If I make mistakes, don’t kill me.”

A good read, beautifully photographed by Ryan Pfluger.   

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