Sam Smith’s ‘Gloria’ delivers unapologetic insight about self-love

Anai Jaime, Life and Arts General Reporter

No stranger to the spotlight, Sam Smith’s single “Unholy” went viral on TikTok in fall 2022 and created a wave of anticipation from eager fans to hear their fourth studio album Gloria, which they released on Friday.

Gloria explores themes of self-love, seduction and liberation with elements of R&B, disco, jazz and gospel. Throughout the 13-track collection, Smith takes listeners into their journey of being a member of the LGBTQ+ community and the woes of love that come with the playful, exciting side.

The album opens with “Love Me More,” which emphasizes the singer-songwriter’s metaphorical rebirth and allows them to explore themes of self-worth throughout the album. Soft piano tunes with a hint of church vibes gives listeners a sense of religious undertones and influence, but funky R&B beats harken back to a modern-urban feeling.

“Six Shots” and “Perfect” deliver Smith’s slower songs with teasing, sultry tones in both Smith and Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez’s voices. Strong guitar riffs, loud lingering vocals and fast string instrumentals in “Perfect” gives listeners a sense of empowerment, as Smith and Reyez harmonize lyrics such as, “I’m not perfect, but I’m worth it.”

Gloria features two interludes, “Hurting Interlude” and “Dorothy’s Interlude,” which include audios from icons such as Lilli Vincenz, Judy Garland and Sylvia Rivera. The two songs juxtapose each other with the former delivering a message about the shame that can come with being part of the LGBTQ+ community while the later discusses the liberation from those feelings.

Religious hymns, chants and choruses throughout the album deliver a mythical sensation that almost feels ironic and contrasts with the secular vibe of the songs, most prominently depicted by the titular track, “Gloria.” The song features a choir with a solo vocalist singing over them and  Smith’s voice overtop that, which may induce in the listener an overwhelming and over-stimulating effect. This song mimics the pressure and voices of opinion and judgment Smith may have heard growing up surrounding his sexuality.

However, “Gimme (feat. Koffee & Jessie Reyez)” features an unpleasant clashing of vocals from the three singers. The beats and repetitive intro create an awkward tension that takes a while to simmer down before the verses and chorus make the song enjoyable to dance to. Influences such as Dua Lipa and Elton John can be heard in “I’m Not Here To Make Friends” and “Lose You” with the futuristic pop and disco beats that echo throughout the tracks, making these some of Smith’s most exciting songs to dance and even spin around in skates to.

Overall, Gloria consists of great composition of vocals, instrumentals and raw, vulnerable lyrics that can turn even the unholiest of nights into something angelic. 

4 Saints out of 5