Michael Kiwanuka – Home AgainCultureMusicAlbum reviews
Well before now Michael Kiwanuka wasn’t much of a household name; you would have hardly found someone to sing one of his songs. All that has now changed with his debut album Home Again, released on 12th March by Polydor records. Produced by Paul Butler of the UK indie rock band The Bees, Michael’s name should now be the one on the tip of everybody’s tongue.
As a singer/songwriter growing up in North London, Michael started out as a session guitarist playing with some popular names in the music industry. Breaking away from that and putting himself headfirst into the limelight, two EP’s materialised. I guess you could say the ball just kept on rolling after that as he supported Adele on her tour last year and won the BBC Sound of 2012 poll in January.
With influences such as Otis Redding and Bill Withers, this ten-track album is like a wave of nostalgia transporting you back in time. What artists like Cat Stevens did in the 70s, Michael Kiwanuka has brought forward to present day. Past decades all wrapped up in a modern shell, he recreates his own brand of timeless soul.
Straight away with Tell Me a Tale – the opening track – your ears are immersed with the sound of a flute, drum and guitar as well as other instruments. Sounding so smooth, his music is silk to your ears. Closing your eyes, it is possible to see guys in flared trousers and tight shirts, girls in bright funky flowery dresses, hitting the streets in the warm glow of the afternoon sun.
A few songs later and on comes Rest – reminiscent of Al Green’s How Can You Mend a Broken Heart. His voice, natural and easy, makes every line like that of a lullaby. His lyrics express discovery, broken faith and strength. Michael’s current single bearing the same title Home Again, currently in the top 40, is the signpost showing the way to where Michael Kiwanuka’s career could be going. Gaining more airplay by the day, it’s an indication that people are warming to this man’s simple yet powerful melodies.
Amidst all the folksy soul that this album contains, Bones stands out with its 1950s old barbershop-esque sound. Like a train gently rolling along the track, it carries on the consistent old school ambience throughout. Listening to this album, it feels like we’re living in the years beyond our own.
With so many solo artists around doing their own thing, you get the feeling that even if this turns out to be a one-hit wonder it won’t faze Michael in the slightest. With every song, you feel every inch of his mind and soul. He has poured out his inner feelings and placed them ever so delicately on a CD for us all to experience. This is an album that isn’t about making millions, it’s about reaching millions.
Watch the video of I’m Getting Ready here