By Ethian Woodford (@human_dis4ster)
The first time many encountered Sampha was way back in 2011 when his haunting vocals stood out on SBTRKT‘s Hold On and really made that track memorable. Since then his solo debut has been eagerly anticipated by many. Unfortunately there was a 6 year wait though thankfully it wasn’t through a lack of trying as Sampha was busy to say the least. An in-demand vocalist, Sampha has appeared on tracks by heavyweights such as Drake, Frank Ocean, Solange and Kanye West. While his vocals make any song skyrocket in quality, which is no wonder considering how many artists sought to get him to appear, Sampha’s debut has been brewing away like fine wine, making the past half a decade wait totally worth it.
Process is an expansive showcase of Sampha‘s vocal ability that also shows what he can do when he gets to use this ability to express his own ideas. The running theme throughout is one of loss and self-examination, which is unsurprising as Sampha lost his father when he was young and more recently his mother as well. Due to the attachment that Sampha must have had to the material, it is evident that he took a great amount of care in crafting each track, every moment has a purpose and it makes for a truly captivating listen. Right from album opener Plastic 100°C, Sampha demands attention with his powerful vocals that soar and dive spectacularly as they intertwine seemlessly with samples and piano tracks.
Sampha uses this album to show his incredible range as he commands fast-paced tracks such as Blood on Me and Kora Sings. These song can compete on an crowd-pleasing level with any of his past collaborators while also exploring complex ideas such as denial and loss. While these tracks are impressive Sampha definitely excels the most in his most simplistic moments such as on stand-out track (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano. On this testement to his late mother, he once again utilises his vocal ability to deliver a beautiful ballad that sticks in the mind throughout the rest of the album.
Each track on Process is its own idea, a carefully constructed piece of work that conveys Sampha‘s experience of tragic loss and how he has dealt with these feelings. However what makes it truly great is how each one seems to show something different and further prove that Sampha is one of the most innovative and exciting artists around. His ability to shift from a sentimental ballad to a powerful, beat-driven single seemlessly is impressive and the fact that he is so convincing at both even more so.
Process was most definitely worth the wait and with it Sampha has proven himself to be one to watch. While he’ll be even busier after this impressive portfolio of his abilities, hopefully it will not be too long until he is able to do something for himself again.