With 25,000+ likes on Facebook in just three years, it’s clear that spoken-word artist Hotel Books (Cam Smith) has found his niche audience. His lyrical blend of heartache and hope on his latest album isn’t relatable to everyone, but those who need to hear the message will relate perfectly and praise Smith for his honesty.
The thing about spoken-word music is that most of the merit comes from the lyrics. Odds are you don’t listen to artists such as Hotel Books for their melodies or harmonies. This doesn’t mean that the music isn’t worthwhile. Instrumentally, Hotel Books could be seen as an above-average post-rock group despite the lack of diversity from song-to-song. Smith’s vocals follow the path of spoken/shouted lyrics which complement the tempo of his backing band rather than the melody.
Smith’s songwriting stays consistent throughout the album’s 11 tracks. There isn’t much imagery in the poems, but the each track paints a mental portrait of emotion. The trouble is that beyond the pains of a failed relationship, there is little else offered lyrically. Even the deeper subject matter of trading salvation for fleeting happiness present on the brilliant “Dreaming or Sinking” is seen through the eyes of a shallow relationship.