Sam Smith’s ‘Gloria’ is a fun yet moving story on self-love 

Illustration by Anna Iorfino/The Daily Campus

Sam Smith’s “Gloria” is a brief but personal look into their life and journey of self-growth over their career. Coming in at 33 minutes, the album is rather short, but contains a lot of substance that highlights Smith’s most powerful qualities as a singer, songwriter and producer. Their strong falsetto and immaculate vocal range invoke strong feelings in me as a listener, but Smith has always been good at that.  

What really led me to take note of Smith’s vocal abilities is when they were chosen to sing the theme for “Spectre” (2015), a prestigious honor given to the biggest singer of the time by EON Productions. The orchestral piece brought out the most powerful aspects of their vocals, even more than “Latch” with Disclosure. Listening to them sing is more than just impressive — it’s an experience that tugs on your emotions when paired with excellent production. But what is arguably the strongest aspect of their arsenal is the ability to draw inspiration from other genres. 

I often criticize music for failing to draw inspiration correctly. A sloppy imitation of other genres can completely ruin a song and an album if implemented on a wider scale. However, it’s obvious through “Gloria” that Smith is influenced heavily by R&B and soul. “Six Shots” is a classic example of an R&B song structure and style that’s been prevalent since the early ‘90s. The idea of being a lonely person seeking a lover is both a personal and prevalent theme throughout the album.  

“Gloria” is less about heartbreak and more about acceptance. On “Love Me More,” Smith’s exploration of their own lack of self-confidence is resolved on a positive note. Focusing on how hiding who you really are and your sense of self is a very heavy topic to explore. But it takes a clever writer to go beyond just the doubts, and focus on how accepting your own flaws can lead to you loving yourself more. 

On the other hand, Smith is also willing to point out that flaw in others. Whether it’s overconfident and cocky partners on “No God” or “How to Cry,” Smith seems dedicated to breaking down the toxic masculinity that plagues many of the men they’ve been involved with. “How to Cry” tackles the strain of emotional buildup within a person who fails to let their feelings out, whereas “No God” looks at the idea of self-righteousness as a red flag.  

Not all of the songs are as heavy-handed as this, however, which can be refreshing. Sometimes it’s songs about the fear of losing a lover, other times it’s about just sleeping with a person you took home from the club. This ability to switch between the two goes a long way and ensures the album doesn’t get too monotonous. However, this same wide variety of songs, themes, sounds and ideas can make the album feel almost impersonal at times. 

The album sequencing seems to be all over the place. There’s not an inherently “bad” song on the album, but there are times when you go from partying to listening to traditional Catholic hymns — a transition that at the very least can be described as jarring. Even the album closer “Who We Love” feels out of place after the grandiose production on “Gloria,” and is probably the most uninteresting song on the album (likely because Ed Sheeran is on it).  

“Gloria” probably won’t be an album of the year contender at the Grammys, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. With a wide variety of songs and musical styles, Smith really pulled out the stops on this project. However, for an individual as talented as they are, I can’t help but feel like they didn’t go all out. 


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