Sampha’s debut album Process is a raw, emotional trip that explored the ideas of death and loss in a way that was very close and very personal. And now NPR’s ongoing and excellent live performance series Tiny Desk Concerts has made those tracks even more intimate and immediate.
The British R&B singer and long-time go-to for cracked vulnerable vocals performed a set of three songs with just himself and a piano. His performances of songs like “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” and “Blood On Me” feel so private that it’s jarring to hear the applause of NPR staff in the room when he stops.
Sampha didn’t take the opportunity to perform any covers. There was no T-Pain doing “A Change Is Gonna Come” moment. But hearing Sampha perform these tracks in the same sort of setting that they were likely conceived — just himself and a piano — is something to see. And the stripped-back piano-and-vocals version of “Blood On Me” is more than worth the price of admission.
Especially since that price is “free.” All you have to do is click on the video clip up top to hear this up-and-coming star belt. And it works as a great preview for his run of concerts with The xx.