Sam Smith's debut album, "In the Lonely Hour," dropped on June 17.

Story highlights

"In the Lonely Hour" is Smith's debut album

He's performed with the duo Disclosure

He rolls deepest on "Stay With Me" —  

Where do lonely hearts go?

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British singer Sam Smith, 21, has written a dissertation on the question with his debut LP. Smith – a gifted blue-eyed-soulster with Barry Gibb’s flexible falsetto and Mark Ronson’s ear for throwback grooves – got noticed last year for his vocals on house duo Disclosure’s slow jam “Latch.”

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With In the Lonely Hour’s orchestral flourishes and focus on a single unrealized affair, it seems the baby-faced singer is being positioned as a male Adele. But while the album flirts with a few radiant moments, Smith’s endless yearning isn’t wrapped in as many irresistible packages.

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He rolls deepest on the gospel-powered “Stay With Me” – a spare track with a simple arrangement that matches its bare plea – and “Like I Can,” a blissful groove that packs a Seventies rock-radio punch. Elsewhere, though he reaches for his upper register with the same eagerness that he grasps for love, his emo hopelessness is a flood drowning everything in sight.

The album’s team of producers gives Smith a mostly blank canvas to showcase his vocals, providing room for soaring riffs over fingerpicked guitars on “Not in That Way” and “Leave Your Lover.” But neither leaves as indelible a mark as Smith’s lost love has left on his heart.

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