Sam Smith is a good place. And not just because the sun is beating down in Adelaide, Australia, where they stopped briefly for a one-off performance at d’Arenberg cube winery, and for some introductions to national media.
talking with Billboard at the EOS by SkyCity hotel, overlooking the iconic Adelaide Oval, Smith appears as chilled as anyone enjoying a break from the dreary British winter.
With Gloria, Smith’s fourth album, set and ready for January. 27 releases in the world, and a busy year of touring ahead, the British singer could be excused for feeling anxious.
“It doesn’t feel nerve-wracking this time,” explains Smith. “I made a very conscious decision with this record not to put anything out until I just loved it, inside and out, and I didn’t want to be in a position where I put something out and thought, ‘People have to like this’ ? I wanted to be in a position where I put something out and I felt like I didn’t care if other people liked it, because it’s about whether I like it. Because that’s what I do.”
The early results are in and there is a lot of love for the new songs. Gloria release “Unholy” with Kim Petras is a stone-cold hit, blasting to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, Smith’s first US leader; and it logged several weeks at the top of the Official UK Singles Chart and Australia’s ARIA Chart.
More than a decade has passed since the Smiths’ career took off when they contributed the honey-drenched, otherworldly vocals to Disclosure 2012 breakthrough number “Latch”. A debut LP, In the lonely hourarrived in 2014 and peaked at No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in the US Its 2017 follow-up, The thrill of it all hit the top on both sides of the Atlantic, confirming Smith’s ascension as a bona fide star.
Awards have rained from the sky and include four Grammys, three BRITs, an Oscar and a Golden Globe.
Gloria is the follow-up to the 2020s Love goeswhich peaked at No. 2 on the UK chart, and No. 5 in the US
Part of the new album was shaped during the pandemic with production work from longtime collaborators Jimmy Napes, Stargate and Max Martin’s stablemate ILYA. The collection “really came to express the liberation I’ve felt in the last few years when it comes to my sexuality, my emotions, my spirit,” notes Smith.
From the introspective opening track, the previously released “Love Me More,” the first song Smith wrote for the album, to the hymnal’s title track, Gloria is a signal that its creator is “in a good place.”
With the benefit of multiple listens and stepping back, there is plenty of enjoyment to be had Gloria. One of the album’s belters is “I’m Not Here To Make friends”, a disco-pop number written with Stargate and Jessie Reyez and produced by Calvin Harris in Los Angeles.
“I had written so many heartbreak songs and confessional songs that weren’t just about my heartbreak, but other people’s,” Smith says. “I wanted to explore a more confident voice and a voice that was stronger, honestly.”
Ahead of the big day, Smith continued to perform SNL and visited The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for a chat in the evening. ONE big international tour in support of the album kicks off on April 12 at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England, before winding its way across the UK and Ireland, continental Europe and to North America for dates in July to October, then returning to Australia and New Zealand for a series of shows in the warmer, southern months.
The 2023 version of Smith is smarter, happier, more confident.
“I really feel like I’m in to place. Of course I want people to like (Gloria), but I’m on my fourth album now. I don’t feel like I have to prove so much, I just want to enjoy what I do and enjoy my job.”