Well… Sampha’s audience patiently waited six years for his sophomore album, Lahai, following his debut album, Process. Conversely, I only made the editor of this review wait about a week for the final product. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Lahai, was well worth the wait. Whether this album review was worth the wait… that’s absolutely up to you.
Since Fall is entering full flow, the French playright and poet, Moliere’s quote that “Trees that are slow to grow bear the best fruit” rings pertinently true. Like a scenic autumn day in the woods, Lahai’s soundscape is entrenching and inviting. The mixing, instrumentals, and vocals harmonize gorgeously; the layering of synths, drums, and keys creates a sonic soundscape that is unique and memorable. Assuredly, you will remember when and where you first listened to this album. Each song is crisp with a sound that keeps the listener engaged while the vocals are sweet like a bite of a perfectly ripe apple, leaving the audience in bliss.
Personal favorite tracks include "Jonathan L. Seagull," where Sampha’s angelic falsetto vocals permeates over punchy synths and keys. Lyrically, the song is inspired by Richard Bach’s book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which examines themes of personal reflection, freedom, and self-realization. Such themes remain relevant throughout the entire album as Sampha searches for individually and a path of flight that varies from the rest of the flock.
Similar themes of flight and self-reflection are touched upon in "Inclination Compass (Tenderness)," where Sampha’s brilliant songwriting and imagery stood out to me. The manner that Sampha is able to amplify his vocals when describing flight while also producing warm articulations of “flying towards the source” is truly mesmerizing. The emotions entangled in regaining a love that appeared fleeting are personal, vulnerable, and relatable.
"Dancing Circles" is yet another highlight as upbeat keys and catchy lyrics make the song an immediate hit. "Dancing Circles" is a song in which the listener can comprehend the chorus rather quickly and join the rhyme scheme, lyrics, cadence - and dare I say… sing along to it. Obviously not with the same vocal mastery of Sampha, but enjoyably nonetheless. This song may put a little spring in your step whenever it comes on.
Last but certainly not least, "Suspended," is one of the most intricately produced songs to ever touch my eardrums. The build-up of the first half of the song is fast-paced and suspenseful, poetically leaving the listener suspended awaiting the tone shift. The song is utterly unique and avant-garde, epitomizing Sampha’s departure from the rest of the flock as a creative artist. Overall, I highly recommend this album because it is unconventional yet enchanting and entirely worth the wait. I began with an anecdote about autumn, not because autumn was particularly relevant to Lahai, but because I first listened to this album on a picturesque autumn day. So, I encourage you to put on your headphones, blast it on the speakers in your car, or vibe out on your laptop. Whatever you do while listening to this album, it will be memorable.
Sampha may have waited six years to make this album, but you certainly shouldn’t wait six years to listen to it.