Boomkat Product Review:
Sampha's return after six years is as tidy and quietly soul-searching as you'd hope after the success of 'Process', sporting contributions from Yaeji, Laura Groves, Yussef Dayes, Léa Sen, KOKOROKO's Sheila Maurice-Grey, El Guincho, Black Midi's Morgan Simpson, Kwake Bass and French duo Ibeyi.
There's a lightness to Sampha's music that allows him to approach complex themes and personal trauma without breaking a sweat. Despite the acclaim he accrued after releasing his debut album in 2016, the Londoner has spent a large portion of his time working alongside others, sharing the spotlight with Alicia Keys, Stormzy and Kendrick Lamar in recent years. This has lent him a confidence that's palpable from the off; his solo music's always been intimate and personal, but 'Lahai' seems even more exposed. On 'Dancing Circles' he sounds as if he's singing and rapping from the next seat on the bus, while Steve Reich's 'Music For 18 Musicians' blares from an unshielded pair of earbuds.
He lightens speedy D&B rhythms on 'Stereo Colour Cloud (Shaman's Dream)', removing the thud until it's a patter beneath his sugar-coated voice, and on 'Spirit 2.0', with help from Yaeji, he shrinks drill into lively neo-jazz, listing the perils of the industry over gossamer guitar plucks and faint orchestral sweeps. His ambition is tempered by his songwriting skill; we already know he's capable of writing hooks, but he's clearly a keen-eared listener, who's able to map out a web of inspirations without Xerroxing anything directly. He talks about fatherhood on 'Can't Go Back', smoothly harmonising with himself over the remnants of a rhythmic pulse.