We’re just a few weeks away from Process, the highly anticipated debut album of the ludicrously talented Sampha. It’s strange to consider that this is his “debut”, considering how well we know him through the many others who have sought him out for collaborations, including Kanye, Drake, Frank Ocean, Solange, FKA Twigs and of course SBTRKT.
(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano is the third song to come from the album. A wise choice given how different it is to previous singles Timmy’s Prayer and Blood on Me, hinting at the diversity of the album. The track, as you’ve probably guessed from the title, simply features Sampha’s voice and a piano. It’s already become a regular number during his live sets, and today has been officially released alongside a video.
It’s heartbreaking and irresistible all at once. All in all, this is one of the most lyrically, melodically and emotionally magnificent songs I’ve heard in a long time, probably since Frank Ocean’s Blonde (Sampha doesn’t feature on this album, but he does on the track Alabama from visual release Endless). The accompanying image of Sampha at his piano in a wide, empty space, is appropriately bare and intimate.
“You know I left, I flew the nest,” begins the chorus. “And you know I won’t be alone. And in my chest you know me best, and you know I’ll be back home.”
The song is an ode to the piano he grew up with since age 3, on which much of this album was composed. It’s also an ode to his mother, who lost a lengthy on-again, off-again battle with cancer in 2015. Sampha had moved back in with her in 2014 to care for her until she passed, and wrote the song soon after. ““There’s not ‘the grieving process,’” he said in an interview with The Fader. “It’s like a dream you never… It’s never gonna feel real.”
Speaking more directly about his mother, he sings, “An angel by her side, all the times I knew we couldn’t cope. They said that it’s her time, no tears in sight, I kept the feelings close.”
Sampha’s debut album Process comes out on February 2, 2017.
He will also be visiting Australia and New Zealand in May this year, dates are below.
May 24: Studio, Auckland
May 25: The Triffid, Brisbane
May 27: Sydney Opera House, Sydney
May 28: Sydney Opera House, Sydney
May 29: The Croxton Bandroom, Melbourne