“I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith feat. A$AP Rocky
I’ve avoided writing about Sam Smith for a while now, even in my review of “Latch” by Disclosure. I’ve avoided the topic because I was waiting for a song like this to come along and show off his ability to mix with so many disparate musical genres and figures, blending it all into a mélange of subtle vocal perfection. This love-song-gone-wrong starts off with A$AP Rocky laying down the first verse over some very church sounding piano, which certainly isn’t a complaint, given the beauty and ascendancy to which the song rises. And then Sam Smith enters, his voice ebbing out over the piano and background rhythms and holding; his is an instrument of true staying power. His melismatic ability is evident here without sounding produced, and it’s quite lovely to hear him achieve the vision he set out to with those notes. The song is a sad acknowledgment of love gone away or wrong; the heart commits sometimes to another, as is often the case. I’m reading Madame Bovary for the first time, and this song hearkens to me the idea of her poor, sad husband. This is a quiet, but strong, anthem for people who have been given love and then its cold shoulder. I was surprised by the softness of A$AP Rocky here, which I attribute to Smith’s musical sensibilities overall. His masculinity sounds refined in this track, and Smith, by virtue of including him, also gives himself a bit more of that roguish edge in lovely, sustained lines. This is a song that reminds me of morning, of getting up and facing truths; best heard with some coffee, probably.
Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org