Label: Young Turks
Highlighted Tracks: "Timmy’s Prayer," "Blood On Me," "Reverse Faults," "Plastic 100°C"
Subtle and beautiful, modest yet powerful, Process is an impressive commercial debut that solidifies Sampha as an artist worthy of your attention.
Although Process is Sampha’s first album, the man is not new to making music. The U.K.-born musician is known for features on Drake’s “Too Much” and Kanye’s “Saint Pablo,” proving he is an experienced contributor who has been around the block. Sampha has also never been a star, but rather a backup singer and sound designer, lurking behind the curtains out of sight. With Process, Sampha uses his accumulated musical expertise to make one hell of a breakthrough into mainstream solo work.
Anyone who caught any of the singles of Process likely expected great things. The album delivers, expanding upon the sonic aesthetic Sampha has been gradually developing. The concise 10-track project dips its toes into different influences and genres while simultaneously retaining great coherency — electric soul at its finest.
One moment you’ll be hearing Gaelic rhythms reminiscent of peaceful U.K. countryside and the next you’ll be listening to trap inspired hi-hats that sound straight out of north Atlanta. The various sounds of the album flow smoothly into one another with elegant production, all complemented by Sampha’s gorgeous voice. The death of Sampha’s parents is explored in the album’s lyrics, and the weightiness of the subject matter often grounds the album in a soulful territory that frequently feels artificial when attempted by Sampha’s contemporaries.
Process is not without its faults. The two 2016 singles “Timmy’s Prayer” and “Blood On Me” are arguably the best songs on the album, potentially leaving room for more to be desired. “Take Me Inside” and “What Shouldn’t I be?” are throwaway tracks, the latter of which is particularly disappointing given it’s the final song on the album.
However, it’s tough to linger too long on these shortcomings when Process has so much to offer. Sampha created a truly unique ride through the life of a tormented musician, with production seamlessly dancing between different genres and vocals navigating the waters of suffering and rebuilding. Regardless of whether or not you’re intimately familiar with loss like Sampha, it’s all too easy to be carried away by the subtle power deeply embedded throughout this album.
Process is moody modern soul dripping with atmosphere and substance, a perfect album for cruising through the city at night with close friends. Get lost in the grief and strength in Sampha’s voice as a unit, provided it’s a weeknight — late night weekend drives are the reason we have Migos.