New Music From Sam Smith, The Kid LAROI and More
Sam Smith, Gloria
Sam Smith has scored several hits over the course of their career, but “Unholy,” his team-up with Kim Petras that became their first No. 1 single, sounded like none of them when it was released last year; the smash not only revitalized Smith’s voice at top 40 radio, but suggested a major shift in sonic approach. Gloria, their fourth studio album, sports a level of freedom rarely heard in Smith’s past oeuvre of precisely drawn pop: their vocal gifts are positioned toward sweaty, sexually liberated dance floor anthems like “I’m Not Here to Make Friends” as well as fearless midtempo confessionals like “Perfect,” with Smith sounding more relaxed in every mode on the album.
The Kid LAROI, “Love Again”
Anticipation is high for The Kid LAROI’s first full-length album, and the release of lead single “Love Again” was preceded by a lead-in intro track, “Can’t Go Back to the Way It Was,” last week, and is being paired with a one-of-a-kind Fortnite experience. Yet LAROI wisely decided not to one-up that rollout with an overly grandiose song: “Love Again” recalls the raw acoustic nerve that his breakout hit, “Without You,” touched to make LAROI a star, and this time he offers clipped, unflinching rhetorical questions while trying to find resolution in a relationship.
Zach Bryan feat. Maggie Rogers, “Dawns”
With his epic project American Heartbreak last year, Zach Bryan enjoyed the type of breakthrough year that Maggie Rogers, who issued her sophomore album Surrender, experienced three years earlier with her debut LP Heard It In a Past Life; the artists may be at slightly different chapters in their respective stories, but as two supremely gifted songwriters, a collaboration was always going to yield an interesting product. “Dawns” is delightfully haunted, a broken howl of a duet on which Bryan sounds lost as he navigates a breakup, and Rogers steadies his hand and centers the song’s intensity.