We’ve been excited all week about this, from Sean Smith releasing his debut album, titled Solo, to the announcement of Same Difference’s brand new single “One Life, One Love” which also features the students from SD Studios, we just beaming.
Same Difference Announces The Release Of New Single “One Life, One Love” Featuring Students From SD Studios
Let’s start with the Same Difference announcement. They went their separate ways in 2014 with Sarah Wilson (née Smith) deciding to focus on the Same Difference Studios, which is a performing arts school in Portsmouth, that the duo set up; whilst, Sean Smith, has been focusing on a solo career, releasing music under Energise Records. We were sad that they disbanded in 2014 and even sadder that the third album they were working on with London Records, known as Superheroes was never released; but, the announcement of this new single, “One Life, One Love”, has excited us to no end.
The release of “One Life, One Love” will mark the duo’s third single overall following on from “We R One” and “Shine On Forever (Photo Frame)”. The duo is best known for competing on the fourth series of The X Factor, where they came third, and they went on to release two albums, Pop and The Rest Is History, and also recorded a third that continues to be unreleased. We’re so happy to see Sarah Wilson return to singing and join her brother Sean Smith for this new song “One Life, One Love” – which has been written by John Gleadall. We’re also eager to hear the featured stars, which are the Students From SD Studios, really allowing Same Difference to showcase all the work they’ve put into SD Studios.
This is their first musical release in nine years! And, 100% of the proceeds will be donated towards the COVID-19 Urgent Appeal in aid of NHS Charities Together. The single will be officially released on 3 August 2020, through SP Music. You can pre-order or pre-save the single right now, by clicking here.
Track By Track Album Review: Sean Smith – Solo
It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here, Sean Smith from Same Difference has dropped his debut solo album! He dropped his debut single, “Turn Me On“, back in 2016 and it just shows that if you continue with passion, desire, heart, and drive, your make your dreams come true, and Sean Smith has done just that with his debut solo album release, aptly named “Solo”. Let’s just hope it isn’t another four years for his next album – yes, of course, we want a sophomore album from him too!
Sean Smith has gone on to build a great solo career for himself since The X Factor brother-sister duo parted ways. He previously released singles “Turn Me On“, “Magic”, “Fire“, “Do Or Die“, and “Summertime” – all of which appear on this album. We also exclusively interviewed him, last year, about “Do Or Die”, where he also mentioned that he was working on this debut album. He has also collaborated with a few other artists including Peter Wilson on his single “Verona” which is a cover of the Koit Toome & Laura track of the same name that represented Estonia in the Eurovision Song Contest 2017; Ben Davidson on his album track titled “Dirty Mirrors” which later got a remix EP; and, most recently, Beware The Bear on their single “Show Me Love“, which is his most streamed Spotify song to-date, which may have something to do with it being featured on the Richard Gere-fronted TV show, MotherFatherSon. Now, he’s dropped his debut album that comes in two versions, the digital version, which has 16 tracks, and the two-disc CD which contains a total of 23 tracks.
All five of his solo singles appear on this album, “Turn Me On“, “Magic”, “Fire“, “Do Or Die“, and “Summertime”, as well as the Tmac remix of the Ben Davidson collaboration “Dirty Mirrors”, and the Matt Pop Extended Mix of the Peter Wilson collaboration “Verona”. There’s also a feature from La’Nette Wallace on the track “Never Gonna Change” and a few remixes thrown in here and there. With all these amazing tracks, we just had to write a track-by-track album review.
The second single release, “Magic”, starts this whole album off and what a first track this is! Sean Smith effortlessly shines with this song. The song is a builder, starting off slow in the first verse before a powerful rush with the chorus. Vocals on point throughout, Sean Smith showcases his passion and heart with this song and he puts all his love into every word of this song and we can full-on feel how much this song means to him. We all want that one special person in our lives.
Following on from the powerful track, “Magic”, this song, “Falling”, has a more uptempo feeling to it that easily stands out on the album for all the right reason. In just two songs, Sean Smith has managed to showcase his vulnerability and his versatility. This has an air of Same Difference’s second studio album The Rest Is History yet with a 2020 spin with whistles and a brilliant beat. He really nails this song and would be brilliant to watch him perform this song live.
Giving us a unique track, “4U” has ballad qualities mixed with a brilliant dance backing beat and all wrapped up in a quality pop song. This track encourages you to move to the beat and yet Sean Smith sings the lyrics with perfect power and easily tells the story of the song. It’s one empowering track that we can’t help but believe in, just like Sean Smith does. It’s easy to fall in love with this track and it’s one we’ll easily remember and will definitely have to play again and again.
The latest single is next and it’s bringing some summer feels – which is what most of us are missing especially having been in quarantine or lockdown. Sean Smith shines throughout showcasing an incredible falsetto in his voice. The beat is dancefloor-worthy and we can’t help but hope a remix EP of this song is dropped as we’re pretty sure DJs would love to mix up this track and play it during their sets. Full of summer sunshine, “Summertime” is certainly one to add to your summer playlists.
Do Or Die
This is one of our favourite tracks and probably the best single that Sean Smith has released – and, no, we’re not just being biased as we premiered the music video back at the start of 2019. The song works well after “Summertime” as it is a perfect dance track that is certainly on our party playlists. Sean Smith impresses to no end with his beautiful vocals, and he’ll have you singing along by the end of it. Catchy, addicting, and unforgettable.
Time for a ballad track and “Hazard” is an absolute perfect choice. The intro is a pure instrumental that builds into Sean Smith’s first verse, which paints the story of arriving in a town where judgement comes easy. It’s another empowering song, with a very ’90s/’00s dance-ballad theme to it. The ending bridge completely blows us away as Sean Smith unleashes on the track with emotion and passion. We fully love this one!
All Or Nothing
Continuing with the ballads but taking it into a more acoustic setting with a guitar. a piano, and the drums, “All Or Nothing” brings more versatility to the table within this album, and gosh does Sean Smith sound amazing! He brings it emotionally and it really gives us chills with the way he sings this beautiful song. This is such a strong song with Sean Smith easily identifying with the lyrics and delivering them amazingly. If there’s just one song on this album that you have to listen to, it just has to be this one.
Never Gonna Change (feat. La’Nette Wallace)
The first duet on the album, and it features La’Nette Wallace who is a theatre and Broadway star having been a part of We Will Rock You, Dreamgirls, and Rent. The two met when they both performed in the Royal Caribbean Cruise Productions show of We Will Rock You. Now, together on a track, and it really has a ’00s R&B vibe to it, continuing to showcase Sean Smith’s versatility. His voice has soul whilst still maintaining his pop side, and La’Nette Wallace’s vocals heighten the beautiful quality of the track. Not the typical Sean Smith song that we expect from him, yet it’s catchy nonetheless.
Music (Matt Pop Album Mix)
We’re not entirely sure where the original version of “Music” is since it doesn’t appear on either the digital album or the CD album, but instead, they’ve put this Matt Pop Album Mix version of the song on this album… Maybe it’s the next single and the original version will appear there? Either way, we fully love this in every single way. Pure pop power in every way, and we’re getting Same Difference The Rest Is History vibes again. This is another one that you need to add to your party playlists, and Sean Smith is giving it his all. We need to hear this live one day as we’re sure he’ll nail it on stage with dancers. A sure-fire track that deserves to get its own remix EP.
Another one of the official singles, and “Fire” is exactly that, pure fire! Sean Smith’s voice sounds sexy and sultry on the track and it works well after the upbeat “Music (Matt Pop Album Mix)”. You can hear his soul in the song whilst still being completely upbeat and powerful. It’s amazing how he floods the song with emotion especially with the repetitive lyric of “Fire” and it works completely. This is one we really connect with and definitely one of our favourite Sean Smith single releases.
Dirty Mirrors (feat. Tmac & Ben Davidson) [Tmac Remix]
We didn’t think Sean Smith had any more surprises for us until we heard Tmac’s rap verse on this track, what a way to switch up this album! This remix was previously a part of the “Dirty Mirrors” EP release but it’s been so long since we’ve heard it and we were not expecting the rap, which totally makes this song stand out on this album. The rap opens the song, and so the lyrics we know and love follow, although the rap returns for the last third of the song and it fits well there. Ben Davidson and Sean Smith’s voices meld brilliantly on this track and their falsettos easily blow us away. We’re not sure if the rap at the start exactly fits, especially with the whole vibe of this album, but it sure is a curveball that we enjoyed whilst listening to the entire album.
Turn Me On (New Album Mix)
This was Sean Smith’s very first solo single, back in 2016, so we’re not exactly surprised to see a new album version of the song being included in this collection of tracks, as it has been four years since it was initially released. It’s got a more acoustic sound to it, that really allows Sean Smith to showcase his vocals throughout. Pure powerful, “Turn Me On” never fails to get us dancing. This is a very catchy song and we’ll forever be grateful for this song as it launched Sean Smith’s solo career.
I Wanna Stay
Slowing it completely down for a full-on piano ballad, “I Wanna Stay” is another curveball in this album, but one we can’t help but love. It’s rare to hear Sean Smith so stripped back, down to just his voice and a piano. It’s completely beautiful and it allows him to paint a picture of heartbreak with these incredible lyrics that he’s singing. This certainly pulls at our heartstrings.
In total contrast to the ballad track before, “Human” is a dance cover of The Killers’ song of the same name. It’s the first official solo cover release from Sean Smith and it works really well, full of ’90s dance influence, this version would certainly fit right in on a Pet Shop Boys album. Sean Smith shines with this cover to the extent that we totally forgot that this is originally a pop-rock/new wave song. It suits his voice well and it’s a version of this song that we will never forget.
Verona (feat. Peter Wilson) [Matt Pop Extended Mix]
“Verona” is possibly one of the most shocking songs that never reached the Eurovision Grand Final. When we first heard it, we were sure it would do well at Eurovision, but sadly Koit Toome & Laura didn’t advance to the Grand Final and we were distraught as we loved the song in its entirety; however, it hasn’t stopped people from covering it. Peter Wilson and Sean Smith teamed up for this cover single and it sounds so good. We’re really glad to see that the Matt Pop Extended Mix of the track made its way onto Sean Smith’s debut album, “Solo”. At times, Matt Pop extends the song a little too much, what with it totalling at five minutes 22 seconds, but it also has a lot of techno and electronic vibes running in the backing track which adds to track. Peter Wilson and Sean Smith’s vocals work well together and give a new spin to the story we adore.
Fire (Project K Extended Remix)
We’re glad to see a remix of “Fire” is included in the digital version of this album and what a transformation this remix is, “Fire” is pretty unrecognisable from the first few seconds. Project K has done quite the number with this song and it manages to heighten Sean Smith’s emotional vocals, whilst also giving us a club dance track that we want to hear on a dancefloor. Running at over seven minutes, this is such an epic way to end this album, but it’s not the last track on the CD version of “Solo” by Sean Smith.
CD Bonus Track: Do Or Die (Mr Root Mix)
The bonus tracks on the CD are mainly remixes apart from the final track, “Not Going Home Tonight”. Mr Root does quite the number on “Do Or Die”, giving us a robotic voice at the start before giving us some ’00s pop rhythmic backing track with subtle hints of garage flowing through that really allows Sean Smith’s vocals to shine.
CD Bonus Track: Dirty Mirrors (feat. Ben Davidson) [Matt Pop Extended]
Another Matt Pop Remix, and this time it’s “Dirty Mirrors” that has had a pop re-work in an extended form. The instrumental intro lasts for just over a minute with the title repeated. It seems like it has a more uptempo feel to it, with a great infectious rhythm. We especially love the clap sounds, some of which are heard to introduce the second verse. As the extended mix comes to an end it switches up, engaging the audience, messing around with the track in a way that shouldn’t work but actually does.
CD Bonus Track: Turn Me On (Extended)
We’re thankful to see an extended version of Sean Smith’s debut single “Turn Me On”. This is the track that launched his solo career and it’s great to hear in its extended form. It’s still addicting to this day, even four years later, and really defined the direction Sean Smith was going to take after Same Difference disbanded. We can’t help but sing along whenever we hear this song.
CD Bonus Track: Magic (Andy Sikorski Extended)
Andy Sikorski’s Extended mix of “Magic” also has a long intro that lasts just under a minute, but it’s actually an intricate instrumental that keeps the listener engaged. This song from Sean Smith is one of the most powerful, and Andy Sikorski has used that to his advantage creating a very interesting remix worthy of club dancefloors and DJ sets. He has even added an infectious drop that perfects the end of the chorus. This is everything that we look for in a remix.
CD Bonus Track: Music (Ricardo Autobahn Mix)
This is one of two unheard remixes. Sean Smith’s vocals are empowering and the song still sounds like it belongs on Same Difference’s The Rest Is History album. This track is addicting and Ricardo Autobahn has made it sound even more bubblegum-pop and we are living for it!
CD Bonus Track: All Or Nothing (Mr Root Mix)
“All Or Nothing (Mr Root Mix)” is the second unheard remix of the CD album, and it opens with a haunting sound before transitioning into a subtle backing track to allow Sean Smith’s brilliant vocals to shine. Mr Root has mixed the backing track up giving it a different vibe and somehow giving more soul to the overall song. It sounds like a real-live band is performing the track and it just gives it this whole new edge that is impossible not to like.
Not Going Home Tonight
Last track on the CD version of this album, and according to the inside of the album booklet, “Not Going Home Tonight” has been solely written by Sean Smith. The track contains a lot of instruments, with a raging beat, and has a club feel to it. Sean Smith impresses to no end. The track has a Bruno Mars pop-feel to it, whilst containing the bubble-gum pop we love from Same Difference, mixed with the soul of Jamiroquai. How on earth did this track not make the digital album? This is our favourite song off the entire album – flat-out addicting, “Not Going Home Tonight” is an unstoppable force that we just have to listen on repeat for days. We’re so disappointed this will forever be a bonus CD track. If you’ve been debating whether to get the CD or not, let us tell you, you’ll be thankful when you get it, just for this song alone! Love, love, love!
Solo, by Sean Smith, is available to download and stream right now, via Energise Records. The CD is available to buy from the Energise Records store alongside his CD singles. Make sure you don’t miss the release of Same Difference’s new single “One Life, One Love” featuring the Students from SD Studios, which will be out on Friday.