By Aaron Hartley–
Debuts can be tricky. More often than not, artists can struggle to find a single or don’t quite have their unique sound nailed down yet. Fortunately, this is definitely not the case with “Process,” the debut record from Sampha.
The 28-year-old Londoner’s first album has been a long time coming. In the past several years, apart from a couple EPs under his belt, he has been featured on a number of big tracks, such as “Don’t Touch My Hair” by Solange and “Saint Pablo” by Kanye West. He has also done quite a bit of collaborative work with the remix project SBTRKT.
But Sampha’s first big project of his own is here, and it is gorgeous. The dense, layered production rife with vocal samples, delicate instrumentations, and impeccable harmonies, but Sampha’s voice is the big highlight here. His British croon is smooth as butter and glides over the music beautifully. From the piano ballads to the electronic mixes, most everything on “Process” works very well.
Sampha’s songwriting here is poignant and mature as well. “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” in which he reminisces on playing in his mother’s house hits especially hard considering his mother passed away just recently. It’s a beautiful and heart-wrenching track that may be the best released so far this year. Tracks like “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Blood on Me” and chock-full of introspective feeling. The lyrics on this record reflect Sampha’s life and what he’s been through over recent years. It’s his way of “processing” the way his life has moved. For a debut record, these inner workings and layers of “Process” are something to behold.
Some songs may carry on a little long, but it’s never exhausting. Much of Sampha’s “Process” is quite a cathartic and emotional listen. For even a fully established artist, this would be a pretty impressive album, but considering it’s just his debut, it gives me the sense that he’s going places.