Sampha – “Process” Album Review

Before even starting, I’d like to point out the inaccuracies I’m seeing all over the place in terms of what musical genre to categorize this album as. With the exception of some minor influences and flourishes, this is NOT Hip Hop, rap, EDM, or even Electronica (Although that latter label might come somewhat close to capturing Process’ essence). This is Soul/R&B (or let’s call it “Neo-Soul”) as good as it gets these days. While I’d rate it 9.5 out of 10 if I could, I’ll settle and present my four reasons for a solid 9.

* While Sampha has been associated as a singer, songwriter, instrumentalist, and producer for the likes of SBTRKT, Jessie Ware, Drake, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Solange, FKA Twigs, etc., his debut album is far less grandiose and fussy than those others’. It has an honest rawness and emotionality rarely attained by his collaborators.

* When he uses electronic elements, they are carefully and subtly chosen for full effect, as in the turbulent yet meditative K-O punch of “Reverse Faults” and “Under” (Tracks 6 and 7).

* Process’ focus remains on Sampha’s keyboard and vocal prowess. His vulnerable and nuanced falsetto absolutely tugs at your heart (unlike, say, Bon Iver’s similar voice on his sterile recent effort). Nowhere is this more evident than on the breathtaking “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano.” I truly doubt we’re going to hear a more beautiful ballad the remainder of this year.

* This is an album that, while varied in its tones, is delicately unified by an overall sense of yearning for beauty amidst a world full of mortality and grief. It is heavily reflective while ultimately remaining hopeful and spontaneous.
Yes, this is a resoundingly successful debut release, and I (for one) look forward to hearing more of Sampha’s talented trek through what has become a rather barren R&B landscape.

  • Mari Wilson

    My curiosity is certainly peeked from reading this review. I will most definitely be checking checking out the album. Great review!