Sampha – “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” (Singles Going Steady)

Sampha takes us into the deepest, warmest parts of his heart and mind with emotional single “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”.

Mike Schiller: Sampha’s been riding a wave of under-the-radar success thanks largely to memorable guest spots with Drake, Kanye West and Solange, and it feels like he’s barely a step away from hitting pop radio and turning his sizable talent into megastardom. This is probably not that step, but it is further confirmation of the power and beauty that Sampha brings to his music. The ring of the piano itself is beautiful here; the slightly distant sound we get from (presumably) using an upright rather than a grand piano is perfect for the mood Sampha’s going for, and his words — and they way he delivers those words, pushing through some of them, falling off toward the ends of lines — are absolutely, stunningly gorgeous. [9/10]

Paul Carr: This is as heartbreakingly personal as music gets. At times it feels almost too voyeuristic. Like looking over Sampha’s shoulder as he wistfully flips back through the pages of an old photo album. Backed by a simple piano he traces his musical journey, describing his struggle and acknowledging the importance of family. It’s a plaintive, spiritual song that serves as the perfect example of the power of music. [9/10]

Steve Horowitz: This is the kind of song one swears one has heard before, not because it steals from the past but because its basic truth suggests we have all shared this sentiment. Every artist and audience member believe to some extent that art/music owns them and forces them to be artists and or fans. Sampha connects playing the piano to his mom, which is a bittersweet memory now she is dead. His music evokes strong, sentimental feelings in a simple, direct manner. There is something lovely about this. [7/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: Sampha takes us into the deepest, warmest parts of his heart and mind with emotional single “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”. He pays fond tribute to his past and his late mother, reflects on his life’s journey so far, and does it almost entirely on his own. His keys and voice need little enhancement; this track is so personal that Sampha needs no one else to help him tell it. A song so intimate feels almost like a secret, and for an artist to let his audience see him so vulnerable is an act of courage, of strength, and of overflowing love — in this case, for his mother and his music. Sampha’s singing always sounds natural, skilled without having to put on any kind of stage persona, and here, that is vital, the human core of a perfectly polished song. [10/10]

SCORE: 8.75