This past August I had the pleasure of catching Disclosure, the brothers behind one the year’s best dance albums, at Central Park’s Summerstage. The set, comprised of songs from the ’90s house inspired Settle, was tailor made for an evening set at the height of the season. The guys even treated the audience to special guests from their album with VH1 You Oughta Know alum Jessie Ware singing “Confess To Me” and Sam Smith belting out the signature falsetto on the chorus of the duo’s lead single, “Latch.”
Not sure what compelled me to check the vast Internet landscape on anything Sam Smith related that night [Spidey senses?], but it led me to the 21 year-old English singer-songwriter’s show at Mercury Lounge later that week. What I witnessed was nothing short of spectacular. I’ve been living in New York for the past seven and a half years and have been fortunate enough to see A LOT of artists play at this venue. Many of these artists have turned in some excellent sets but after Sam’s performance—a set which was all too brief I might add—I can, without hesitation, say that this was the best show I have ever seen at Mercury Lounge.
I didn’t have any of my colleagues with me at this show and flying solo at this particular gig was borderline torture. Why, you ask? Thirty seconds into hearing his impeccable vocals I knew we were all in for something remarkable and I had absolutely no one to witness this with me. (Would they believe my bold claims the next day at the office?) Whether it was his acoustic versions of “Latch” or the UK hit “La La La”—he lends his talents to that single as well—or a handful of original songs, he managed to mesmerize the room. Of his original songs, “I’ve Told You Now” had the biggest impact. The only thing I can liken his brilliant performance to is Adele’s first gig in New York at Joe’s Pub in ’08. It’s the kind of performance that makes the hairs on your…everything stand up. Wait, did I just refer to Sam as the male version of Adele? Yep. Well, in the way that they both have excellent control of immensely powerful vocals.
Needless to say he left quite the impression and I’ve been eagerly awaiting Smith’s return to the States. Last week I was #blessed with the opportunity to see his show, now with a full band, at The Troubadour in LA and he did not disappoint. This time, he debuted his latest single “Money On My Mind” for the sold out LA crowd who ate up every single song he had to offer and refused to leave even when it was obvious he had exhausted his repertoire. Three days later, he even managed to captivate the boisterous crowd at the SoHo House in NYC for a stripped down performance [guitars, cellist]. The live setting is something so incredibly awesome you can’t stop yourself from joining the fan club.
This fall Sam Smith released his Nirvana EP in the UK featuring a couple of new tracks [“Safe With Me” and “Nirvana”] that upped the production and percussion from that of previous releases “Lay Me Down” and “The Lonely Hour”. The latter focus more on showcasing the singer’s strong soulful voice while the former offer an exciting look at what we might be able to expect from a Sam Smith LP in 2014. I predict big things for this guy in the very near future. It’s difficult to deny this caliber of talent for too long.
This has been my very passionate plea to have you take a gander at this man’s Soundcloud page. Give the songs a listen and drop everything to go see him when he visits your city. You won’t regret it.
Sam Smith’s Nirvana EP is out now in the U.S. and his full length debut is scheduled for a June 2014 release on Capitol Records.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Isaac Ayers is VH1’s Music Supervisor in our Creative Music Integration department, which means he’s responsible for pairing music to your favorite scenes in all of our shows. In other words, he knows what he’s talking about.