Sampha’s ‘Process’: REVIEW

sampha-back-2016
Photo: DJBooth

Known for his noteworthy collaborations with Kanye West, Drake, Frank Ocean, Solange, Beyonce and Jessie Ware to name a few, ‘Process’ is an album purely reflective of Sampha’s own growth and productive style and flair.

Enlisting co-producer Rodaidh McDonald, there has been much talk that the album is about anxiety and how important it is to accept the things we can’t change about ourselves which echoes in the final song ‘What Shouldn’t I Be?’

Here’s what we think of some of the songs featured:

Plastic 100c 

Awakening listeners with a harp, high pitch violin combined with Sampha’s sad but enlivening and poetic vocals directing the song’s direction. The individualistic nature of the song is furthermore displayed with the subtle yet notable backing vocals of Sampha himself. The song does build with a subtle bass beat and drums and fades out at the end rather nicely as Sampha sings, ‘I’m melting from the light, one drip at a time’.

 Blood On Me

With it’s upbeat percussion, drum beat and simple piano fused with Sampha’s echoing background vocals definitely showcases his talented production. Notably, the piano brings some type of serenity to the anxiety and worrying lyrics.

The emotive and vulnerable nature of Sampha’s vocals as he sings, ‘I swear they smell the blood on me, I hear them coming for me’. Sampha’s intelligent and  poetic lyrics easily paint a picture in the listener’s mind. Although the lyrics are rather dark when they are mixed with this upbeat groove, Sampha is breaking moulds.

Kora Sings

The first thing that came to mind with this song is the cool production. The claps and clicks to the short synth bursts fused with the naturalistic guitar and drums, this song is full of everything. The strings really dominate the song but also have some sort of uncertainty about them and almost sound like they have some sort of Spanish influence to them.

Honestly, I feel as if he has created this wonderland of sound with the calming female backing vocals at the conclusion of the song remind me of a flowing waterfall, that is a ‘musical waterfall’ of course.

(No one Knows Me) Like the Piano

This song really epitomizes that simplicity is often best. The uncomplicated and stripped-back piano with Sampha’s raw and emotional vocals really let the lyrics tell the story.

For those who don’t know, the song was actually penned about the legacy of his mother who passed away, as he reminisces ‘no one knows me, like the piano in my mothers home’.

Take Me Inside

With a purposeful slightly out of tune piano fits somewhat nicely, the imperfect nature of the piano creates a beautiful sound alongside Sampha’s unique, silky vocals. The song gradually builds into a colourful sound of synths as Sampha sings, ‘Your free, your free’.

 Reverse Faults

Once again the production here is so contemporary and addictive. There is something about that warped synth at the start that puts you in a trance, making you want to keep listening. The simple drums keep the bassline of the song alive and assists in building to a bold production.

Timmy’s Prayer

Co-written with Kanye West, in an interview with FASTERLOUDER Sampha described the song,  “Sometimes you can be in a sort of loving relationship … that you don’t appreciate when you’re in it … but then when you’re without it you realize it was heaven, because you go out into the wider world and you can meet some real sharks out there, people who are out there for your blood.”

 What Shouldn’t I Be

Rather cathartic in nature, with a soothing and refreshing harp which makes the lyrics stand out. The thoughtfulness of Sampha’s lyrics are evident here as he asks ‘What Shouldn’t I Be?’ 

I think the message that really shone through for me with this song was the fact of how often we are so consumed in ourselves and our own selfishness. We are constantly asking for ‘more’ and ‘who should we be’ rather than focusing on what we have right in front of us right now and appreciating that.

Overall, ‘Process’ is unpredictable yet tasteful. Sampha’s skill to break musical boundaries by fusing the bleak, darkness of his lyrics with the rather bright, colourful musical production and sound makes for easy yet purposeful listening.

Sampha is touring Australia in late May this year, all tour details can be found here.

Take a listen to ‘Process’ here:

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