Luke Geier Reporter
Sampha’s long-awaited sophomore album, ‘Lahai’ which was released on Oct. 27 is finally here after the singer-songwriter’s 6-year hiatus from his first album, ‘Process’. Despite this wait, the 34-year-old London native has still stayed busy in the form of contributing to several notable albums such as Travis Scotts ‘Utopia’ as well as possibly the most notable of all, with his feature on the song ‘Father Time’ from Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy-winning album ‘Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers’. While Sampha’s contributions to these albums have undoubtedly granted him a new set of ears and a wider audience that he might not have had before, his creative uniqueness has only seemed to mature this time around, solidifying him as one of the most distinct voices in music today.
Right off the bat, Sampha flaunts his versatility with track one, ‘Stereo Colour Cloud (Shaman’s Dream)’. Like the rest of the tracks on the album, ‘Stereo Colour Cloud (Shaman’s Dream)’ shows Sampha diving into his spirituality with his lyrics: “We grow a pair of wings / And fly on high” and sets the stage perfectly for the ongoing theme of the album. The relatively stripped-back instrumentals and fast-paced snare contrast with Sampha’s voice perfectly making ‘Stereo Colour Cloud (Shaman’s Dream)’ an excellent intro track.
Another standout is track eight, titled ‘Only’. In this song, Sampha’s deep but true lyrics beautifully explore his purpose in life as well as trying to make sense of the ever-changing world around him: “And I see problems, jump and hide / I can’t see trap doors in my mind / Blurry signs that I can’t define / like predicting movements ahead of time.” Lyrics like this showcase exactly what makes Sampha so special, and his ability to dive so deep into his personal life explains why his fans connect with his music so deeply. Instrumentally, ‘Only’ is very simple. It seems as if this may be intentional though, and the simplicity of the track allows the focus to center around Sampha’s words, allowing the listener to soak in the importance of the song’s message.
In track 10, ‘Can’t Go Back’, Sampha seems to be grappling with his past self, and more specifically his urge to relive a life he no longer lives: “Don’t care if my mind keeps saying / Can’t go back / Don’t care if my heart keeps saying / Can’t go back.” What’s interesting about these lyrics is the double life that Sampha seems to be living. While he knows he can’t go back and relive his old life, he still has the desire to be the person he was years ago. By the end of the song, the chorus switches to: “You can move forward slower / Can’t go back / You can move forward slower / Can’t go back.” We can only assume that Sampha is having a realization about choices he made too quickly, and the advice he leaves us with is that we can always move slower if we are unsure of the life we want to live. It’s yet again a powerful song that lies in an equally powerful album.
While there are many more songs on the album equally as impactful as the ones above, it would be impossible to go in-depth about the themes that Sampha has presented in ‘Lahai’ without filling several pages. Sampha’s themes of time, spirituality, and purpose make ‘Lahai’ an unforgettable listening experience and in my opinion, one of the best albums of the year.