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Lahai, the second studio album by English musician Sampha, was released on 20 October 2023, through Young, marking his return after a hiatus of over six years. The album derives its name from Sampha’s paternal grandfather. Notable contributors to the album include Yaeji, Léa Sen, Sheila Maurice Grey, Ibeyi, Morgan Simpson, Yussef Dayes, Laura Groves, and Kwake Bass.
Receiving widespread critical acclaim, Lahai made its debut at number 21 on the UK Albums chart and secured the top spot on the UK R&B Albums chart.
The lead single, “Spirit 2.0,” dropped on 28 June 2023, marking Sampha’s first solo release in over six years. The album was officially announced at the end of August, with Sampha providing insight into the title’s significance and the themes explored in Lahai. The second single, “Only,” was released on 6 September 2023. In support of the album, the Lahai Tour was unveiled in September 2023, spanning from 29 October 2023, in San Francisco to 7 December 2023, in Paris.
After the critical success of his debut album, “Process,” which delved into themes of loss, Lahai signifies a shift to a more optimistic space inspired by Sampha’s journey into fatherhood. Rooted in his Sierra Leonean heritage, Sampha’s musical influences span various genres, and Lahai refines this fusion, seamlessly blending live soul music with synthesizers and drum machines.
The album orbits around Sampha’s reflections on human connection as someone who lost his parents and is now a father. Tracks like “Can’t Go Back” and “Spirit 2.0” showcase orchestral jungle and technical sophistication while maintaining Sampha’s signature gossamer vocals. Collaborating with Kwake Bass, the album blurs the lines between natural and mechanized playing, exploring broader interests such as Afrofuturism and particle physics.
Upon its release, Lahai garnered universal acclaim from critics. With a Metacritic score of 87 out of 100 based on 12 reviews, the album was hailed for its positivity, inventive synthesis of genres, and the profound themes of life’s cyclical nature. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian named it album of the week, describing it as “jittery with anxiety and indecision, yet poised and luscious.” The album’s second half was particularly praised for its emotional depth, with reviewers celebrating Sampha’s growth and craft.
A1 Stereo Colour Cloud (Shaman's Dream)
A2 Spirit 2.0
A3 Dancing Circles
A5 Satellite Business
A6 Jonathan L Seagull
B1 Inclination Compass (Tenderness)
B3 Time Piece
B4 Can't Go Back
B6 Wave Therapy
B7 What If You Hypnotise Me?
B8 Rose Tint
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