Michael Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka – finding his own soul legend style

Fri, Oct 25, 2019, 06:00



Michael Kiwanuka


R&B / Soul

By this stage, you know what you’re getting with a Michael Kiwanuka album. Or do you? Three records into his career, the Londoner proves that he’s far from a one-trick pony. Dogged by constant references to soul greats Bill Withers, Otis Redding et al, Kiwanuka pulls apart and stretches that classic 1960s soul sound and subtly incorporates his own adventurous style with these remarkable songs.

With production by Danger Mouse and Inflo, Kiwanuka gently experiments with tempo, chord changes and recording techniques to tremendous effect, from pacy opener You Ain’t the Problem to swoonsome closer Light.

Piano Joint (This Kind of Love) is a spacey, experimental beauty, while the scratchy twang of guitar on Hard to Say Goodbye and the frisky skitter of Final Days are intoxicating.

Michael Kiwanuka - You Ain't the Problem

Several interludes set the scene: one, Loving the People, incorporates a Martin Luther King speech, while others continue the explorations of racial identity instigated on 2016’s Love & Hate. All of this without mentioning Kiwanuka’s voice, which remains a rich, expressive instrument in itself.

It’s fitting that this collection is eponymously titled; with these songs Kiwanuka self-assuredly shrugs off the myriad comparisons, embraces his style and completely owns it.