New Recordings: Sam Smith; Lewis; Ed Sheeran
Ratings: **** Excellent, *** Good, ** Fair, * Poor
In the Lonely Hour
The "male Adele" label hung around 22-year-old Brit Sam Smith's neck extends to music-business strategy. As with Adele's mega-selling 21, Smith's album, In The Lonely Hour, has been held off streaming services such as Spotify. If you want to get your hands on the debut album by the blue-eyed soul singer with the attention-getting voice, you'll have to buy it.
- Dan DeLuca
(Light In The Attic ***1/2)
The artist is a mystery: Randall Wulff recorded 10 songs in Los Angeles in 1983 and released them on a privately pressed vinyl album under the pseudonym Lewis. The record went unnoticed until a collector in Edmonton, Canada, picked it up at a flea market in 2007 and heard something special. Now, L'Amour receives its first wide release, although no one has been able to track down Wulff himself.
The music is mysterious, too: slow, spare, soulful, seductive. Wulff sings these melancholy love songs in an intimate, drowsy croon, accompanying himself with minimal piano or guitar lines and backed by Philip Lees' spacey waves of synthesizer chords. It's outside of time and place: Wulff's contemporary Arthur Russell comes to mind, as does ours, James Blake. Vive L'Amour!
- Steve Klinge
Maybe it's his soft, slightly throaty voice, or his wisdom-of-age outlook, but it seems as if Ed Sheeran has been around longer than 23 years. That mix of innocence and sage wistfulness comes together handsomely, and unpredictably, on x, following Sheeran's economical, twisting, dark lyrics.
Musically and vocally, "Runaway" and the stompy "Photographs" sound like the dewy-fresh, ebulliently youthful Sheeran you know and love from "The A Team." Sheeran's rap (yup) on "The Man" may signal disgust toward a cheating heart, but it comes off like a kid with scuffed knees. Then again, it could just be that his rap is so awkward. Luckily, he does better matching falsettos with Pharrell Williams on the slick, woozy "Sing."
The rest of x portrays Sheeran and his protagonists as weeping-in-his-cider guys whose fame means nothing in the face of love and the fate of a bruised heart. It's a little too obvious to be "stumbling off drunk," on "One," or to reveal the ache of love so bluntly on "I'm a Mess," or to grouse cattily about the competition on "Don't," but all in all, Sheeran's directness comes off as refreshing, balanced by a gentle toughness to his vocals.
- A.D. Amorosi
Top Albums in the Region
This Week Last Week
Locally Nationally Locally
1 2 Sam Smith In the Lonely Hour -
2 1 Lana Del Rey Ultraviolence -
3 3 Linkin Park Hunting Party -
4 5 Willie Nelson Band of Brothers -
5 8 Jennifer Lopez A.K.A. -
6 4 Various Artists "Frozen" Soundtrack 2
7 7 Jack White Lazaretto 1
8 12 ColdPlay Ghost Stories 3
9 9 Deadmau5 While (1<2) -
10 15 David Gray Mutineers -
SOURCE: SoundScan (based on purchase data from Philadelphia and Montgomery, Delaware, Bucks, Chester, Camden, Burlington and Gloucester Counties). Billboard Magazine 7/5/14 © 2014
In Stores Tuesday
Old Crow Medicine Show, Remedy;
Trey Songz, Trigga;
Eno & Hyde, High Life;
Robin Thicke, Paula