Album Review: Sampha – Process

By Maria Lubanovic, Staff Writer
[Young Turks; 2017]
Rating: 8.5/10

Key Tracks: “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” “Blood on Me,” “What Shouldn’t I Be?”

Process is the debut record from the British electronic singer Sampha, and it’s easy to see why so many artists, from SBTRKT to Kanye, want to collaborate with him. This album brings a unique breathlessness and electro-soul sound, with themes of grieving and self-discovery.

The album opens with “Plastic 100°C” and follows with the album’s single “Blood on Me”. “Plastic 100°C” is dissonant and disconnected, but is representative of how he is trying not to melt in front of his problems. “Blood on Me” features a more hip-hop style beat, and urgent lyrics, as if Sampha is trying to run away and escape the people “who smell the blood on me”.

By far the best track on the album is “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano,” where Sampha reminisces about his mother’s home and how learning how to play piano has made him more him more of a whole person. The piano playing is perfect and allows the vocals to gently float over top of it. Behind that, there are even softer beats. It’s a fitting ballad for this album and is a tangible story to so many other musicians.

“Reverse Faults” has one of the most interesting backgrounds to any of the tracks on the rest of the album, which somehow still works with his voice. Contrastingly, “Under” has a smooth trap beat under his soft soprano vocals.

The album ends with “What Shouldn’t I Be?”, a bubbling key-driven track. Sampha reaches out to what is left of his family, and the ghosts of people who have left him behind. As he sings “You can always come home”, it’s like he’s speaking to a lost part of himself. It’s an eloquent end to the album’s theme of grieving and trying to find himself.

Anyone who enjoys any kind of synth music or a great male soul singer will love Process; it’s cohesive, unique, and beautiful. The entire album is somber, but still relaxed enough to be easy and enjoyable listening.

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