British musician Sampha delivers an authentic, emotional tour de force on his highly anticipated debut album, ‘Process.’
British musician Sampha has made a name for himself as a collaborator and producer, not so much as an artist. Now it’s his time to shine as an artist in his own right. He drops his highly anticipated debut album, Process. Three stunning singles released prior to the album foreshadowed its excellence: “Blood on Me,” “Timmy’s Prayer,” and “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.” Sampha proves he’s the real deal on Process.
“Blood on Me”
As great as opener “Plastic 100˚C”, nothing trumps “Blood on Me,” his magnificent promo single. Although groovy from the onset, “Blood on Me” isn’t a particularly exuberant record. Don’t let the radiant and soulful pipes of the musician sway you away from the terror! “Blood on Me” has dark tilt that can be interpreted literally and metaphorically. Essentially, he erects a song that where he feels he’s being hunted down or forced to run from a devastating threat.
“(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”
“(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” is an emotional, reflective gem that grips the listener from the jump. A subtle record, the lyrics pack a punch, not to mention Sampha’s personal, truly authentic vocal. In a sense, he characterizes the piano in his mother’s home as his confidante – the sole person who understands his feelings, issues, and otherwise. On the first verse, the focus seems to be solely on the piano. The chorus, which follows, suggests that there’s more to the story. Verse two personalizes the centerpiece of the song:
“An angel by her side, all the times I knew we couldn’t cope / They said that it’s her time, no tears in sight, I kept the feelings close / And you took hold of me and never, never, never let me go…”
Sampha has returned home, not only for his beloved childhood piano. According to Genius, his return was due to the illness and eventual death of his mom.
“Reverse Faults” gives Sampha one of his most vulnerable moments. Driven by a broken relationship, he uses this song almost as an atonement and confession of his miscues. A standout from the first listen, “Reverse Faults” thrives on its poetry. Furthermore, the production shines, like everything else gracing Process.
“A nemesis, an enemy / You’re the crack inside the screen / As I’m singing my soprano / Still flicking through the channels.” That’s the intensity that “Under” brings to Process. Not only are the lyrics affecting, so is the production work. Set in a minor key, the production has a mysterious, dark edge. The repetition of the word under only amplifies the intensity.
“Timmy’s Prayer” is heavy, like “Blood on Me” and “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.” Sampha seems to admit he was wrong and messed up a good relationship. The first hint of the repentant musician comes on the intro, “If ever you’re listening,” which also initiates the chorus.
Sampha paints a picture of his regrets and emotion throughout the first verse. Later, he references his brother’s advice that “she’s a keeper,” only to later state, “She’s nowhere to be seen now…” Arguably the climax comes during the more intense, contrasting bridge section.
Penultimate record “Incomplete Kisses” is among the grooviest gems from Process. “Kisses” sounds closest to being an urban contemporary song. While it doesn’t sound as sad as the majority of Process, there is still solemnness, particularly on the second verse. Here, the pain of the loss of his mother rears its head.
All said and done, Sampha delivers a gem with Process. He perfectly captures his own emotional rollercoaster. While Process isn’t a jubilant affair in regards to mood, musically, it is a tour de force. There are no misses to be found.
Gems: “Blood on Me,” “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” “Reverse Faults,” “Under” & “Timmy’s Prayer”
Sampha • Process • Young Turks • Release: 2.3.17
Photo Credit: Young Turks