It’s been about three years since Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour debuted and the world was introduced to his somewhat cheesy (yet entirely beautiful) “Sad Boy” persona. Now, in 2017, Sam Smith is just as sad.
In the three years of his fame, Smith jumped between crooning about past relationships over soulful instrumentation and belting with Disclosure on the duo’s most popular tracks. On his new single “Too Good At Goodbyes,” Smith finds a happy medium between “Stay With Me” and “Latch.” Co-written with Stargate, the production duo behind everything from Beyonce’s “Irreplaceable” to Rihanna’s “S&M,” the track has a slight R&B undertone. Smith opens with just his voice and piano, followed by a progressive layering of light strings and snaps. About 1:15 in, a head-bobbing bass guitar comes in over a simple bass drum beat, showcasing Stargate’s R&B expertise. Smith’s voice sounds phenomenal and sheds light on his extensive range, despite a setback from vocal cord surgery. A friend of mine even compared his voice on “Too Good At Goodbyes” to a saxophone. That rings true, especially on the chorus.
Lyrically, “Too Good At Goodbyes” is classic Sam Smith. He describes how a past lover hurt him so many times that he’s now adept at moving on (essentially the motif of In the Lonely Hour). The single is nothing new in terms of content, but instrumentally Smith delivers a welcomed update to his usual, string-heavy production. He’s still sad, but sadness and Sam Smith are like Rihanna and sex-appeal – it’s just innate.