He's had his finger in an impressive selection of pies for the last 5 or 6 years, and that's why it may come as a surprise that South London-born producer/singer/songwriter Sampha is only just releasing his first full length LP. After an outstanding recent feature on Solange's "A Seat At The Table", Process is his own creation, and it's pretty exciting. "Blood On Me" is the teaser single, a potent electronic blend of soul, pop and hip-hop with shuffling beats, gorgeous harmonies and that distinctive, powerful-yet-delicate voice that Sampha has become so sought-after for. Released as Vinyl LP and CD on the Young Turks label.
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They tell me the Solange album is really good but whenever it plays all I hear is Mary J Blige. So maybe some of my credibility with the young people can be clawed back in the fact that I have championed Sampha a bit in the past and he appeared on 'A Seat At The Table' amongst other high profile jobs. After a series of EPs this is his debut album which contains a moment or two of absolute brilliance as well as times where he’s determined to sound like Stevie Wonder auditioning for The Voice (just imagine those blind auditions).
Bad taste? Well I didn’t say it. Instead I’m concentrating on wondering why this album starts like an express train with two absolutely corking tracks before beginning a slow wander towards inconsequentialness. Opener ‘Plastic 100%’ is amazing. Just amazing. It’s built around a wobbly off kilter harp sound over which Sampha sings in his delightful soul croon whilst all sorts of spoken word stuff from astronauts dips in and out of the mix. ‘Blood On Me’ uses some chilling piano chords to sound absolutely terrifying - with a chorus that sounds like Thundercat being chased down Brixton high street by a pack of hoodies (remember them?)
You think at this point that you are in for a fun time but is almost the point I lose interest ‘Kora Sings’ is ok -but sort of sounds like Riverdance at 78rpm breaking into an R&B track so confused that it thinks Piers Morgan is prime minister (oh God - don’t). After the soppy ‘No One Loves Me Like My Piano’, Sampha attempts to claw the album back but each time he tries all that comes out are ok ish slo - mo ballads that are more R Kelly than Bon Iver.
I wonder if Sampha is over- thinking it. When he relaxes and makes something more straightforward like ‘Incomplete Kisses’ then things are better as you start to be able to follow the lines. Overall though everything but the first two tracks sounds like an artist not knowing whether to play it safe or to embrace his experimental leanings and ends up doing neither. A shame because when he’s good he’s very good.
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- Process by Sampha
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