Sam Smith Releases New Gospel Single, “Pray,” Inspired By Trip To Iraq

"I’m starting to open my eyes to what is going on in the rest of the world—and that it’s not always pretty.”

Sam Smith continues his return to the big time with a new single, the gospel track “Pray.” The Grammy winner also revealed the name of his upcoming album—The Thrill of it All—which will drop November 3.

“Pray” is slightly more uptempo than Smith’s usual work, and injects a gospel choir and producer Timbaland’s signature staccato beats. It’s something of a confessional, with Smith singing, “I’m young and I’m foolish, I’ve made bad decisions/I block out the news, turn my back on religion.” Later he confides “I’m not a saint, I’m more of a sinner/I don’t wanna lose, but I fear for the winners.”


In The Lonely Hour was a very introspective album, but The Thrill of it All sees the 25-year-old singer-songwriter taking a more outward perspective. In an interview with Billboard, he says “Pray” was influenced by a trip to Iraq he took last year with the ­charity War Child.

David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for evian

“I spent five days in Mosul and came back ­embarrassed that I had known so little about the world and other people’s lives,” he admits.

“I went back to that great Nina Simone quote, that it is important to speak about the times you live in. I hadn’t done that; I’d just written a bunch of songs about love. So I wanted to write about how I’m now starting to open my eyes, at 25, to what is going on in the rest of the world, and that it’s not always pretty.”

Smith may perform “Pray” when he performs on Saturday Night Live this weekend.

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