Well, you know what they say, “good things come to those who wait” and that could not be truer of Sampha‘s debut. I’d like to say that I was cautiously optimistic on first listen but mostly I was just itching to have it on repeat. This came to us on a day of music release mayhem and it’s made a point to standout…
1. Plastic 100°C
Out of the non-singles, this song is my current favourite. Sampha has one of the most distinct voices around at the moment and whilst rising to the top; when his voice chimes in on this track, the sound just washes over you. I remember thinking, “this is a song that I could wake up to for years to come“. Every time I hear this, it sounds like a new beginning. Talk about starting as you mean to go on…
2. Blood On Me
Prior to listening, this was my favourite single and one of my favourite songs and videos released last year. Now, having listened to it in the context of the album, more than ever, the feeling still stands. As familiar as it sounded, it was given a new lease of life on the album and although I didn’t think that I could – I love it even more. So intricate and so simple.
3. Kora Sings
I would love to hear a Hiatus Kaiyote remix of this one actually. The instrumental wins this song hands down for me; I was just immersed in the way that the beat transitions. So many influences held together with Sampha’s signature sound. Strong track and early standout.
4. (No One Knows Me) Like The Piano
After listening to Sampha’s Dual EP over the last 3/4 years, as soon as I heard the opening chords on this single it brought me back to those six tracks and how much they made me appreciate piano-centric music. Hearing his vocals on this song I could feel every word he sang, and finding out that he wrote this album and in particular this song, shortly after his mother died; only made me adore it even more.
5. Take Me Inside
This was probably the least memorable song on the album for me after first listen. Although listening to it as I write this, I can say that it’s good song, something about it just underwhelms me unfortunately. To me it felt a lot more like an interlude than a full length song. However, I love the way it seamlessly bleeds into the next-
6. Reverse Faults
So I’ll be spontaneously singing “took the breakpads out the car” for the next few weeks. The beat after this line is one of those ‘close your eyes, lift your hands’ kinds of beats. This track and the next might be the most different of the ten but here it fits in so, so perfectly you almost don’t notice the vibe change. This might turn out to be the dark horse that people refer to whenever they discuss the album.
My feelings towards this song change every time I listen to it. Occasionally it feels like a b-side, but then I listen again and it holds my attention and leaves me wanting more. Maybe after a few more listens I’ll have a more committed feeling for this one.
8. Timmy’s Prayer
Here’s the single that I’m waiting to hear live. At first I didn’t latch onto it as much as the general public did. Then I heard it after a while on ‘Insecure‘ and gave it another chance. Since then, it’s grown on me more. My head knows that this is probably one of the strongest songs all-round on the record, but whenever I’ve come back to the album, it’s sadly not been near the top of my list to go to.
9. Incomplete Kisses
Almost as soon as this track started, I had a visual in my head. A while ago I read a comment on YouTube where the person had written “this must be what colour sounds like”. In a way, I feel that with this; like when you listen to a song and you imagine yourself in the video. Here I see it as if watching a dream.
10. What Shouldn’t I Be?
What I think Sampha’s managed to do beautifully with this album is create a clear journey. Every feeling that has brought me to this closer was vivid and distinct. Also, this is one of the most, dare I say it, exquisite songs of 2017 – and I know it’s only February but I say that with the confidence that it will likely not be outdone by many.
I think with this album I just have to remind myself that it’s actually a debut record, because as a debut, it’s near-on remarkable. After all of the anticipation, I have to say that I was a tiny bit disappointed with parts of the record. Some of the standouts made the “good-but-not-great” tracks easier to pick out and a little less memorable in my opinion, and I think that I prefer the first half to the second. However, this album lyrically is one of the most beautiful pieces I’ve come across in a while. I will definitely be returning to a lot of this for years to come, but whether or not I’ll listen to it over and over again as a whole remains to be seen. After I catch him live next month I’m sure that I’ll return to the album and hear something completely different.
Overall Rating – 8/10