“(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”
2017 has just been two weeks in, and Sampha already makes me cry with his “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano” a soulful and somber piano ballad taken from his anticipated debut album, Process. After being featured artists in some of the finest musics for the past six years, including Jessie Ware, Drake, Solange, and (of course) SBTRKT—where he and Jerome are pretty much inseparable act—Sampha finally shines and starts rolling some of the teasers from his debut. After the impressive trap-y “Blood On Me” last year, it’s a jaw-dropping change of direction when he releases “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”, proving how versatile he actually is.
In “(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano”, Sampha gives a tribute to the piano which has malleably helped shape him to become a musician like this. Yet, at the same time the ballad is also an ode to his mother who lost the battle to the cancer. The ‘you’ in the song can be referred interchangeably either to his piano or his mother. “No one knows me like the piano,” Sampha’s croon faintly heard beneath the beautiful piano music before being followed by a powerful statement, “You assure me I have something, some people call it soul”. The song’s structure may sound modest, compared to his previous body of works, but its simplicity is the most impactful yet. It’s in the chorus, where the song peaks. “You know I left, I flew the nest,” Sampha sings and wails, but in just four concise sentences that build the chorus, you can feel that he’s not only talking to the piano, but also talking to his late mother, explicitly stating his solemn longing and good bye, how much he loves his mother. There’s abundant of feeling from this three-minute song, and that’s the reason why I cry. It’s just simply melismatic.