Sam Smith, "In the Lonely Hour" (Capitol)
Smith is going to be a superstar. The 22-year-old Brit's voice is just too special to be denied — bluesy one minute, soulful the next, moving effortlessly from fluttering falsetto to commanding pop — on his debut. The question is what kind. Smith initially made his splash on dance hits — Naughty Boy's "La La La" and Disclosure's "Latch" — and many were expecting more of the same here. However, aside from the opener, "Money on My Mind," the dance beats are scarce. Instead, Smith serves up an emotional, ballad-heavy pop album that will likely make him an even bigger star. "Leave Your Lover" packs the same emotional wallop as Adele's simpler ballads, while "I'm Not the Only One" picks up the tempo and the mood slightly. On the spare "Not in That Way," Smith's ache over his unrequited love is wrenching.
glenn gamboa, Newsday
Veteran Panamanian star Ruben Blades teams up with Leopoldo Federico Orchestra and City of Prague Symphony for his upcoming album "Tangos," now streaming at the New York Times http://tinyurl.com/q6goa8o.