In the early years of his career, Sam Smith mainly stood for highly emotional comfort songs and even won an Oscar with it. Meanwhile, the songs are more danceable and sexier. The metamorphosis of the pop star from Great Britain continues on the fourth album “Gloria”.

Throwback: Self-doubt and the pain of separation take up a lot of space on Sam Smith’s 2014 debut album “In the Lonely Hour”. “Stay With Me” and “I’m Not The Only One” become big hits, it rains a lot of praise, four Grammys and in 2016 the Oscar for the James Bond theme song “Writing’s on the Wall”. A steep rise in early 20s.

But Smith is full of self-doubt, which can be seen in the songs. The newcomer is also rather reserved in public. But that will change in the coming years. Smith likes to dress extravagantly, even more revealingly than before. A turning point in 2019 is certainly the public declaration to be non-binary, i.e. not to commit to any gender identity.

“It changed everything,” Smith recalled in Britain’s Rolling Stone. The path to more self-love has finally been taken. It’s a recurring theme on “Gloria”.

The long road to self-love

Already in the first of the 13 songs, the already released single “Love Me More”, it says melancholy: “Every day I try not to hate myself. But recently it doesn’t hurt as much as it used to. Maybe I’ll learn to love myself more.”

“Self-love isn’t a goal – it’s the daily commitment to accepting yourself,” Smith explains in the interview. With her public statements, the pop star from a village near Cambridge is a role model for many people who feel different, question gender roles and just want to be themselves.

The queer pop culture is unmistakable on “Gloria”. There are quotes from drag queen RuPaul (“If you don’t love yourself, how the hell can you love others?”), from the documentary “Gay and Proud” about gay life in the 1970s (“Having to lie is the saddest and ugliest thing about being gay”) and gay icon Judy Garland (“The Wizard of Oz”).

Arguably the most special song on the album is the club hit “Unholy,” a duet with German-born singer Kim Petras, which hit number one in the UK and US in the autumn. The song about a family man having fun in a strip club is bursting with sex appeal and eroticism.

Electro pop to dance to

Musically, too, “Unholy” sets the direction that Smith is taking more and more. Less breakup ballads, more electro pop hits for the dance floor – like the single “Gimme” or the R

So “Gloria” is about self-love, longing and sex. But of course ballads (like “No God” or “How To Cry”) should not be missing, where Smith’s vulnerable and high voice really comes into its own. In a duet with another British superstar – Ed Sheeran – the two sing of love in “Who We Love”: “We live who we love.”

What sounds like a platitude to many is one of many steps towards self-acceptance for the queer community. The open approach and the music of Sam Smith, now 30, were able to help young people in particular. More and more of them are in the audience at concerts – alongside drag queens, straight couples and older women’s cliques. A mix that only Harry Styles can currently create.

“My audience has always been very broad, but it’s nice to see a new generation enjoying my music,” explains Smith. “This is absolutely wild.” Just like Smith’s metamorphosis, which ends lyrically and musically in “Gloria”. In addition, it is a well listenable album for all moods – not only for the melancholic moments.