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Album Review: Love Goes by Sam Smith

Sam Smith’s third album is a heartfelt collection of little momentos: battlefields of lost loves, lingerings of memories and nostalgic reflections wrapped up in a 57 minute escape from reality.

Sam Smith by Alasdair McLellan

Photo: Alasdair McLellan

The album starts off with "Young", a low key acapella tune to lure us into the universe that is Sam Smith. Their reserved voice on their own, only accompanied by echoing vocals. The song reflects on what it means to be young and feels like an honest declaration, letting people into the feeling of being overly scrutinized from an early age.

"My Oasis" featuring Burna Boy offers a dark, yet beautiful exploration of the insecurity that comes with an unpredictable lover. With lyrics like "I’m flowing like an ocean, I pray for your devotion, there’s nothing I can do when it comes to you" express just how tiring it is to tiptoe around a toxic person offering you everything but stability and predictability. Still, they’re trying to make it work as they think they’re seeing an oasis in the desert.

"Dance (’Til You Love Someone Else)" naturally follows the lyrics of "My Oasis". The upbeat, house-inspired tune is about the desperate, immediate and slightly aggressive need to mask heartbreak with someone new. It flows easily into "For The Lover That I Lost" where they reflect on what they’ve let go of, and Smith seems to come to terms with the relationship as it was. With lyrics like "all of the fighting seems so sweet, all that we were, my love, was tragic" they accept the love as it was, and in "Breaking Hearts" they look inwards, and seem to realise how both parts can mess up. Title track "Love Goes" featuring Labrinth is a mature statement of someone who’s fed up pining for the wrong people; "you’re broken, I know this, and if you knew it too, you’d love me a whole different way".

"How Do You Sleep?" is a lyrical exploration of heartache, resentment and frustration wrapped up in a catchy, easy on the ear tune. Followed by "To Die For" they move into a different territory, with a song of lamentation. The loneliness bordering on depression makes this song stand out from the album for me personally. The sheer pain of feeling left outside is something we all feel from time to time, but the way it’s made into such a beautiful song is somewhat comforting and reassuring that we’re never truly alone.

"I’m Ready" featuring Demi Lovato is an outspoken and slightly desperate wish for change, from being lonely to having someone, even if it’s only to have someone warming up their cold nights. Featuring Demi on this particular song makes it even more insistent and powerful, with both of their fiery voices practically throwing themselves out of the comfort of old ways, even if it’s slightly destructive.

"Fire On Fire", the penultimate track of the album, featured on the BBC and Netflix mini-series Watership Down, is a song of uninhibited passion. Throughout the song, it’s expressed that people outside the relationship is looking down on them from a moral standpoint and viewing them and their partner as sinners, hinting to the negative, sometimes religious-based criticism of their sexuality thrown around online. The song is also interpretable as a reflection of their relationship with their parents as a queer, non-binary person. The haunting lyrics "my mother said I'm too romantic, she said, ‘you're dancing in the movies’, I almost started to believe her" paints the image of a disapproving parent gazing from the outside at their imaginative, queer child. During the song, Smith seems to come to terms with themselves and vulnerably add "don’t let them ruin our beautiful rhythms", alluding to them accepting and even being confident in the way they are.

The last song of the album "Promises" is a fun, experimental track by Calvin Harris and Sam Smith, featuring Jessie Reyez, released in the middle of Smith’s 2018 American tour. During a concert following their breakup with their boyfriend of nine months, Sam told the audience "I know that everyone in this room right now is going through some sh-t. I know I’m going through some sh-t. And tonight I want all of us to just leave all of our worries and all of our heartache aside and let’s have some fun. Let’s sing as loud as we can".

All in all, this album is a beautiful and honest exploration of what it means to be queer in a very confusing world. Sam openly identifies as gay, non-binary and genderqueer and by being unapologetically themselves they’re showing others that it’s more than ok to be who they are without any shame. I hope Love Goes brings a feeling of unity, warmth and familiarity to the LGBTQIA community during this chaotic, confronting year.

Written by Eirunn Oppheim


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