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New Music to Know: Sam Smith Writes Songs for Lonely People

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By Courtney E. Smith

Sam Smith is taking in the view of New York City. It’s something many artists do when they visit Radio.com’s headquarters on the 44th floor of the Time & Life Building. To the southeast is the Statue of Liberty. While the legendary Radio City Music Hall–the crown jewel of Rockefeller Center–lies directly to the east. Smith laments that he’ll be leaving immediately after our interview for JFK airport to catch a plane back to the UK.

The up and coming singer is going to be on a lot of planes in 2014, shuttling back and forth from the UK to the U.S., where his career is picking up major steam thanks to Disclosure‘s “Latch,” which was a huge hit in the UK last year and is just now finally gaining traction on American radio. Smith says he wrote that song during his first session with the brotherly duo, Guy and Howard Lawrence, who reached out to him after hearing his song “Lay Me Down.”

“I was working at a bar when we did this,” Smith recounts. “I’ve witnessed their project, from their first single, then their album, and seen how it lifted off. You know, how the album has just taken over. It’s been incredible to be a part of that.”

While features on the Disclosure song and Naughty Boy’s “La La La,” may be why his voice sounds familiar, it’s his original music that will officially make you a fan. Smith released his debut EP, Nirvana, in January with his first full length, In The Lonely Hour, scheduled to follow on June 16. And while the EP was meant to serve as an introductory marketing tool for his label, it was something else entirely for Smith.

“‘Nirvana’ was my breath of fresh air… I actually wrote that song with the guys [co-writers James Napier, Anup Paul, Harry Craze and Hugo Chegwin, better known as producing team Craze & Hoax] and we released that halfway through making In The Lonely Hour. That was more of me taking a breather for a second…because it was so depressing,” Smith says with a laugh.

That need for a breather makes sense once Smith explains that the album tackles an intensely personal topic: his love life. Or rather, his lack thereof.

“I’ve never been in a relationship before,” Smith reveals. “When I was writing this album, I really delved into that fact. I delved into [how] I fell in love with someone who didn’t love me back, last year. I really went inside myself and I wanted to write an album for lonely people, because I don’t think there’s been enough music out there that talks about unrequited love.”

It’s an interesting choice, to release a pop album that tackles loneliness in the summer – a time generally reserved for club bangers and fun in the sun jams. But it insures that Smith will be doing what no one else is.

At the time of this interview, Smith said he was no longer in love with the person he was in love with before, but he was still in the phase of wanting to talk about unrequited love and loneliness.

“Right now when I go on stage it’s good for me. I feel like it’s a therapy every night and the music comforts me. But hopefully I’m going to find someone soon,” Smith said. “Then when I do, I think it might be a bit more difficult to sing the songs because I’ll want to sing happy songs.”

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