Artists / Bands, Culture, Releases, RnB / Soul — June 4, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Michael Kiwanuka: the new Soul Master

by

Unique new British voice Michael Kiwanuka releases Home Again (Polydor Records / Universal Singapore), an album composed of the widespread praised debut EP Tell Me A Tale and the 3 songs of second EP I’m Getting Ready.

Few records make such an instant impression as Home Again, the debut album by Michael Kiwanuka. Immersing the listener in a sound that is both modern and at the same time as familiar as the classics, it manages to strike the balance between being contemporary and somehow utterly timeless.

“I just wanted to make a record that, when someone puts it on, it takes them to a certain place,” says the 25ish-year-old north Londoner. “I wanted it to have the lush-sounding instrumentation and feel of older records, to be warm and peaceful and put the listener in this little world, which is rich with vibes and sounds and colours.”

Kiwanuka is a singer and songwriter with such a genuine raw talent that this early acclaim is only natural. His headline gigs have all sold-out, he’s toured both the UK and Europe with Adele, and already received many offers from well-established, acclaimed artists to work with him on new material.

Originally lacking the confidence to sing his own songs, it was upon the discovery of Bob Dylan and Otis Redding, particularly their phrasing, that spoke to Michael above and beyond anything else he’d previously heard. It led him to the back catalogues of Bill Withers, Terry Callier and more recently Laura Marling, and his own work followed soon afterwards.

His song repertoire and confidence grew as his MySpace following built, and Paul Butler from The Bees invited him down to the band’s Isle of Wight studios to lay down the foundations for these introductory EPs of rootsy, folk-inflected modern soul. ‘Paul is definitely on the same wavelength as I am when it comes to musical ideas, and I love spending time building these songs in the studio with him. It’s become a kind of perfect alliance’, Michael recently commented.

Written and performed by Michael Kiwanuka, produced by Paul Butler and featuring an assortment of Isle of Wight musicians, as well as of course Michael on acoustic guitar, ‘I’m Getting Ready’, ‘I Need You By My Side’, and ‘Any Day Will Do Fine’ are songs that develop upon his debut EP, and presents a young songwriter with both a real ear for beautifully affecting music, and a vocal that has the potential to become a timeless entity in its own right.

TRACKLIST

1. Tell Me A Tale 4:09
2. I’m Getting Ready 2:21
3. I’ll Get Along 3:26
4. Rest 3:50
5. Home Again 3:29
6. Bones 3:45
7. Always Waiting 4:30
8. I Won’t Lie 4:01
9. Any Day Will Do Fine 3:37
10. Worry Walks Beside Me 4:57

BIOGRAPHY

Born in Muswell Hill to Ugandan émigré parents, Michael Kiwanuka was brought up in a home from which music was largely absent, with his first introduction to rock (Nirvana, Radiohead) arriving at the same time as he began to hang with the skater kids in the north London suburb during his early teenage years. Later coming across a soul compilation album given away with a music monthly, he was enthralled by the sound of Otis Redding’s studio talkback discussions with his engineer while recording an outtake version of (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay. From this point on, he resolved to make music that sounded raw and authentic.

As a guitarist, however, the session work that Kiwanuka managed to find in his early career as a musician was entirely in the urban genre, notably with Bashy and Chipmunk. While he says he learned much from these experiences, it chiefly taught him that his musical passions lay elsewhere. “My head was in other music,” he admits, “so this was just a means to get there. It forced me to try and write my own songs because I didn’t feel this other stuff in my heart.”
Though deeply into soul and jazz, he found real inspiration in the cross-pollination of the two styles with folk in the music of Bill Withers. “Bill Withers was very rootsy and earthy,” he points out, “but people branded him as a soul singer. To me, he was a folk artist. So that encouraged me to keep going, ‘cause I didn’t know where I would fit in as a black guy with an acoustic guitar.”

In beginning to perform on the acoustic circuit around London, Kiwanuka quickly attracted interest and made connections, not least with his current manager who in turn garnered the attention of Communion Records, the label that in 2011 released the singer’s first two acclaimed EPs, Tell Me A Tale and I’m Getting Ready.

On the evidence of the stunning Home Again, of course, Kiwanuka is clearly not a musician who should be wrestling with doubts. It is an album that is set to make the liquid-voiced singer an international name and touch its listeners in the same way as his favourite records inspired Michael Kiwanuka himself.

“I’d just like for the songs to mean something in people’s lives,” he concludes. “That for me is what music ultimately is for. All of our favourite records, you can remember where you were when you first heard them. Or they might remind you of a time or someone. My hope is that these songs will move people.”

LINKS

Website: http://www.michaelkiwanuka.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MichaelKiwanuka
Twitter: http://twitter.com/michaelkiwanuka
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/michaelkiwanukamusic