Rising up out of a nearly four-year state of dormancy, soul artist Sampha is back with a new album titled Process. In his new work that dropped Feb. 3, Sampha combines rich soul music with a deep electric beat, with groundbreaking results.
The British singer’s new 10-song LP features his powerful and clear voice on top of simple but intense instrumentals. Throughout the songs, his voice dips in and out of falsetto, making them fluid and pleasant to listen to.
After his mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, Sampha’s life revolved around taking care of her, which inadvertently led his break from the music industry. In late 2015, his mother passed away, bringing him back to his music career.
In many ways, Process is a product of this grief, a feature that’s reflected sonically throughout the album. From the gospel choir in the background of songs like “Timmy’s Prayer” to the beeps of heart monitors Sampha then mimics in the opening to “Plastic 100°C,” this record drips with melancholy.
Despite the sad connotations of the music, there are elements within the songs that succeed in making them fun to listen to. “Kora Sings” boasts upbeat rhythms provided by fast-paced whistles and Spanish guitar, and the song even has some sense of hope within its lyrics. In it, Sampha sings about someone who needs to be more confident in their inner strength.
Stylistically, he uses the power of simplicity to make his music more moving and gripping. His voice is the focal point of every song, allowing the listener to really hear the complexity of the various elements he adds to his runs and tones. The instrumentals are basic but extremely potent as well, dominated by constant drum beats with one or two other interesting instruments to give the tune a more colorful aura.
An especially powerful sound in the song “Timmy’s Prayer,” which Sampha co-wrote with Kanye West, is the bagpipe, which may have been produced by the actual instrument or by a synth. The tone of this sound resonates perfectly with the somberness of the song.
One of the strongest songs in the album is“(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.” The song mainly consists of Sampha’s voice on top of a slow and simple piano melody. The lyrics are concerned with how he discovered his true potential by learning to play the piano in his mother’s home. The piano serves as an effective metaphor for his mother, and through that, he reflects on how he lost someone who was so important and motivational for him. The resulting song is extremely raw and tender.
Process is a boon to Sampha’s career. His voice, talent and creativity are at their absolute peak here. Previous albums like Dual did not reflect his true potential, especially since it only consists of six songs, some of which are as short as 37 seconds. With Process, Sampha fans can experience the full range of what he has to bring to the music world.
I cannot stop listening to this amazing album. The mix of soul and electronic music make it extremely complex, and add a more desirable tone to the depressing meanings of the songs.
All in all, Process is thought-provoking, deep and complex. It really does justice to Sampha, highlighting the best aspects of his talent. His voice is rich, the instrumentals are stellar and the lyrics are personal.
Process gets a 10/10. It will surely appeal to all music appreciators, with its wide range of styles and moving meaning. Sampha is currently touring around the United States playing several concerts, and will continue his tour in Europe.
Contact CU Independent Arts Writer Sam Danshes at firstname.lastname@example.org.