What works for Sampha, after he’s carved out a niche for himself by collaborating with Drake (Too Much), Kanye West (Saint Pablo), and Solange (Don’t Touch My Hair), is to be able to sing in his style without worry of commercial success; a thing many upcoming artists who fall between two or three genres or barely fall into the mould of any genre worry of.
At the end of the day, it’s difficult to believe Process is Sampha’s debut album, but it’s hard to expect no less than from an artist who cut his teeth by featuring on some of the most celebrated albums in recent memory.
After lending his vocals for several tracks on SBTRKT’s self-titled post-modern dystopian album, and after his single from Process, ‘Blood On Me’, the rest of the album is fairly slower in pace and not as upbeat.
Process discusses the three pillars of our lives – career, family, and romantic love – the value that they carry in our lives, and the devastation of potentially losing them.
In the opener Plastic 100ºC, he highlights his hesitant approach to fame but recognizes the need to communicate, and in the next track, “Blood On Me” he breathlessly exhibits the anxiety and fretfulness of someone being chased by their inner demons.
“You’ve been with me since the cradle/Please don’t you disappear,” he croons in Kora Sings, a song dedicated to his late mother that plays right before a track about returning home to care for her before her passing and the piano he played in her home.
In retrospect, Process is less an album but more an open letter to those Sampha holds closest and dearest. His genuine emotions of a lost love swelling with every organ chord on Timmy’s Prayer feels like accidently finding and reading a stranger’s private note to their ex-lover and renders the listener a voyeur into his inner emotional construct.
From beginning to end, listening to Process is a cathartic experience that allows you to tap into some of your past struggles and repressed emotions, at times feeling like pressing on a painful bruise just to remember that it’s still there.
The album is available on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.
Written by Hibo Bilan Bile and Pavan Premaney