Michael Kiwanuka | Home Again (Cherrytree/Interscope)


cd Michael-KiwanukaI want more than soulful vocals over acoustic instruments.



If you enjoy or just appreciate the soulful vibe of ’60s jazz clubs, then you’ll adore Michael Kiwanuka’s EP Home Again. Hailing from North London, Kiwanuka has The Los Angeles Times gushing: “What grabs you first is that voice, a delicately sandpapered, yearning instrument that recalls Bill Withers over a shuffling, breezy funk rhythm. Once the Afrobeat horns and ‘What’s Going On?’-era strings come in, you’re hooked and ready to hear more.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself. His voice is so full of discord but harmony. As the strings permeate “Home Again,” foot taps and head swaying ensues as I “close my eyes, look behind, moving on, moving.” You almost feel as if you’re the personal recipient of a sultry lullaby serenade.

Kiwanuka’s acoustic melodies put its listeners at ease. “Now I’m Seeing” feels a little country music-inspired infused with steady snares and keyboards as Kiwanuka croons. Expressing his new lease on life over the jazzy beat, he no longer succumbs to the age-old tale of judging a book by its cover and doubting yourself before you even try to achieve your dream.

As fame sometimes comes with a double-edged sword, quite like love, it can lead to great rewards or heartache. In the concluding song, “They Say I’m Doing Just Fine,” he pours his soul into the track, addressing frustrations and perseverance all at the same time, in the same hook ptovlsiming: “Mama, they tell me who they think I should be/ How I long for a song just to set me free/ Here I am in music city; they say I’m doing just fine.”

I would have loved to have more tracks to sample and to experience more of his vocal variety and storytelling. I want more than soulful vocals over acoustic instruments, and I’m wondering if he can deliver on all fronts, not just this one style that sometimes gets a bit monotonous. With only three tracks to judge Kiwanuka’s talents, it only showcases one aspect, which I’m sure he has much more than that and I’d like to hear it.

He is doing just fine, creating his own style of music like so many of his fellow British singers, but we listeners must hear more before we can totally include him on the list of dynamic British musicians. C- | Ashley White

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