Delayed from the summer and name-changed (from original title To Die For) because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sam Smith’s third album gives off such a whiff of high-end collaborations that it’s a wonder any songwriters were around to help out the rest of the world’s major music acts. In other words, Love Goes contains the kind of contemporary pop song that (mostly) lodges in the head and refuses to depart.
Smith has said of the album that it is more pop-oriented than 2014’s In the Lonely Hour and 2017’s The Thrill of It All, but the spine here is actually constructed of interlocking, virtually unbreakable ballads.
Having emerged six years ago as a singer perhaps too conspicuously influenced by the likes of Adele, Amy Winehouse, Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey, Smith has nonetheless briskly forged such a distinctive style that more recent material owes little to anyone.
The vibed-up tracks – My Oasis, Diamonds, Another One, So Serious – do what they’re supposed to, but the ballads go several heartbeats slower by easily capturing numerous strains of loss-equals-emotional-torment tropes.
In less capable hands the lovelorn quotient might have been too much to bear, but Smith’s aptitude – and voice – carry the likes of The Lover That I Lost, Breaking Hearts, Forgive Myself, Fire on Fire, the title track, and How do you Sleep into a realm of genuine consolation.