The great flawed voices make you forget about perfection: the strain of D’Angelo’s crinkly falsetto rasping at its limit; the graceful cool of Sade’s cropped range; Nina Simone’s thick-as-molasses melisma. Twenty-seven-year-old British singer-songwriter-producer Sampha, whose first album Process is out Feb. 3 via indie label Young Turks, has one of those voices. His mark, delicate and straining, is unmistakable.

Drake, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, Solange—some of the most significant artists of today— have sought out Sampha (born Sampha Sisay) to intensify their music with his vocals. “I quite like being of service to people,” he explains gently, behind the closed door of a small Midtown Manhattan office on a mild fall evening. He’s nearly inaudible by the time he reaches the end of the sentence—a habit of his. Self-deprecating laughter, frequent pauses, and an elliptical way of speaking, in which he constantly revises himself and lets sentence fragments only hint at what he’s trying to say, are the markers of his conversational style. “I’m an instrument,” he says, “but an instrument with my own processor. They’ll play a note into me and I’ll process it.”

Sampha admits that “process” is a popular, perhaps overused term among people with artistic aspirations. Nevertheless, he finds it useful. Just as he transfigures a request from collaborators such as Drake or Ocean, he finds that he processes difficult emotions and traumas as he records. Created over a period of time marred by the death of his mother, Binty, the album is a melancholy engagement with, as he puts it, “the feeling of memory.”

“I’d go to the studio, make these tracks, and when I’d hear them back I’d think, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know I was feeling that way,’” he says. “I was almost empathizing with myself. It’s really weird when you create something you can relate to outside of yourself.” The resulting album is just as uncanny. Process is a recording to lose yourself in; it will undoubtedly stand as one of 2017’s best.