It's been over three years since Sam Smith dropped his debut album In the Lonely Hour, infiltrating our ears and hearts with the inescapable Top 5-charting hits "Stay With Me" and "I'm Not the Only One," staking his claim as a powerful pop balladeer with a voice both classic and crushing, and swiping four major Grammy Awards in the process. But for the last week or so, he's been teasing his return to music.
First, with a letter to fans thanking them for allowing him "the past year to really escape into my mind" and promising something "very very very very soon."
Then, with photographs of his new Spotify billboards across London, Los Angeles, and New York that boasted a mysterious September 8 date.
And finally, with pictures of both the artwork and lyrics for his new single, "Too Good at Goodbyes."
While we wait for his new era to be ushered in, here's what Sam has been up to since his debut.
NOVEMBER 2014 | Mary J. Blige, The London Sessions
While still rolling out and receiving praise for his own album, Smith garnered even more recognition as a co-writer of Mary J. Blige's critically-applauded The London Sessions LP where he helped helm five of its tracks, including lead single "Therapy." A year later, upon the re-release of In The Lonely Hour (as the Drowning Shadows Edition), MJB would return the favor by blessing him with a rework of "Stay With Me."
MARCH 2015 | "Lay Me Down" feat. John Legend
"Lay Me Down" had already lived two lives by the time John Legend was recruited to breathe new, uh, marketing scheme into it. In 2013, it served as both Smith's debut single and In The Lonely Hour's lead single, but failed to appear on Billboard's singles chart and instead peaked at No.25 on its Bubbling Under list. But, after all of Smith's commercial success, it was re-recorded and re-released with better hopes, and the effort proved to not be in vain as it nabbed the No.8 spot on Billboard Hot 100, making its official mark. Two months later, it was revamped again with Legend to benefit the Red Nose Day charity. It, once again, failed to chart in the U.S., but still made the tracklist of Smith's Drowning Shadows Edition.
JULY 2015 | Disclosure, "Omen"
Smith's musical camaraderie with Disclosure had long been established by this point. It was the garage-duo that first enlisted the singer back in October 2012 to collaborate on their eventual-smash "Latch"; a sleeper hit, it would take nearly two more years for it to hit No.7 on the Billboard Hot 100. But the trio reunited for "Omen" off Disclosure's following LP and though it didn't recreate their initial magic, it did continue to solidify both parties as ever-reliable collaborators.
SEPTEMBER 2015 | "Writing's on the Wall"
Considering the pop culture cornerstones that James Bond theme songs tend to become, taking on the task of delivering a new one is a responsibility that shouldn't be taken lightly—especially after Adele did so with the titular track to Skyfall. But, despite Smith admitting to penning "Writing's On The Wall" for Daniel Craig's Spectre in under a half hour and to using the demo's vocals in its final version, it still managed to win both the Oscar and Golden Globe for Best Original Song, and to become the first Bond movie theme song to reach No.1 on the UK Singles Chart.
NOVEMBER 2015 | Drowning Shadows Edition
To close out his In the Lonely Hour era, Smith took a self-described "final bow" by releasing an expanded issue of the LP, complete with new tracks, including acoustic versions of his Disclosure collaborations "Latch" and "Omen"; the aforementioned remixes with Blige and Legend, as well as one with A$AP Rocky; and covers of classics from late legends Whitney Houston ("How Will I Know") and Amy Winehouse ("Love Is A Losing Game").