More than ever, I feel like it’s getting harder to categorise artists. That’s probably a good thing because it shows creative diversity. On the other hand, it shows the type of music industry we’re currently living and working in. One which is far from being black and white. Sampha Sisay is a singer, songwriter and keyboardist who blends pop, R&B and electronic in sublime fashion. His debut album Process exhibits a passionate songwriter at work.
Sampha’s debut sees him step into the light after being behind the production of hits by the likes of Drake and Solange. Not to mention his work with SBTRKT. Process is an album with a double meaning. As well as referring to the process of making music, it also refers to dealing with the loss of his mother to cancer. A poignant and deeply saddening message which is sewn into the album’s music. Sampha’s production prowess serves his grief well. ‘Kora Sings’ is a delicate piece of songwriting genius – heartbreaking lyrics, well-crafted percussion with synths, bleeps and samples that are not scattershot.
This is an album packed with emotion which is only delivered effectively in dribs and drabs.
Each song is measured and precise though some have more impact than others. ‘Reverse Faults’ and ‘Under’ both deal with heartbreak but due to lacklustre and uninspired production they fall short of the memorable singles ‘Blood On Me’ and ‘Timmy’s Prayer’. Curiously, the latter was co-written with one Kanye West – an artist whom I don’t particularly admire but, nevertheless, his appearance alongside such a fresh face is a good endorsement.
This is an album packed with emotion which is only delivered effectively in dribs and drabs. When Sampha is singing alongside the stimulating percussion of ‘Blood On Me’ or the soul-stirring piano on ‘(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano’ he hits the desired mark. But too often his delicate vocal is held back by uninspired and tedious production.
By Will Hunt
Songwriting with sporadic success
‘Kora Sings’ – one of the few album tracks which stand out alongside the singles
|1. Plastic 100°C|
|2. Blood on Me|
|3. Kora Sings|
|4. (No One Knows Me) Like the Piano|
|5. Take Me Inside|
|6. Reverse Faults|
|8. Timmy’s Prayer|
|9. Incomplete Kisses|
|10. What Shouldn’t I Be?|