The winner of the BBC sound of 2012 award has matured considerably since his 2012 record Home Again, no longer does he sound like Ritchie Havens instead he now sounds more like a unique artist no longer derivative of a sound dead before he was born.
Kiwanuka manages to transport soul music into the 21st century in a way no other artist has bee able to do. While some like Leon Bridges loyally sing the 1960s soul Kiwanuka has given it a new coat, which makes it feel not nostalgic but still as powerful as the most impressive Terry Callier record.
This is the London-based musician's second album.
The opening track, Cold Little Heart, is incredibly impressive with it’s psychedelic hinting core wrapped tightly in David Gilmour and Eddie Hazel-esque guitar. The 10 minute epic is a showcase to his tastes and despite his most talked about feature being his impressive vocal tone he doesn’t sing until the song is halfway finished.
Black Man In A White World directly follows this and it is also a flawless song which Kiwanuka described as reflective of slave songs due to it’s inclusion of hand claps which carry the song.
Other highlights are Falling, Rule The World and the title track, Love & Hate. All of these songs hint at a perfection which isn’t quite hit, but the album manages to avoid ever losing it’s momentum and it’s easiest criticism is that it wears it’s influences on it’s shoulder.
In an interview with the Evening Standard he revealed he nearly quit music in 2013.
I’d recommend the album to anyone who has a soft spot for classic 70s soul but I’d also recommend it to anyone who simple has a soft spot for well produced music because Danger Mouse, although an odd choice which I wouldn’t have chosen to produce Kiwanuka, perfects his work and really elevates the album.
I can’t describe how fond I have become towards the record, but I can tell you it’s a great record.