Stereophile: Performance 5/5 Stars / Sonics 4/5 Stars
KIWANUKA is the follow-up to Michael's 2016 album Love & Hate, which featured the songs "Love & Hate", "One More Night", "Black Man In A White World" and "Cold Little Heart", the latter used as the opening theme for the HBO miniseries Big Little Lies. Recorded in New York, LA and London, Michael returned to the studio with Danger Mouse and Inflo, the same production team that combined so magnificently on Love & Hate. KIWANUKA finds a new assuredness in Michael's writing, and takes the basic sonic blueprint of that last record to a dizzying new realm.
KIWANUKA sets off on a journey that evokes the psychedelic haze of its predecessor, but ramps up a very broad sense of scale. With his exquisite band of players, Michael channels an assortment of the late greats (a nod to Gil Scott-Heron here, Bobby Womack flecked there, and the ever present Otis Redding vocally) for a richly rewarding record that sits typically at odds with the notion and expectations of a successful British singer-songwriter in 2019, and moves even further away from the folk-imbued vintage soul of his debut album, Home Again , back in 2012. Michael will tell you of his love for records that entwine their songs with incidental skits and shape-shifting spiraling outros, so that the listener experience is almost that of listening to one long, dramatic song. KIWANUKA fulfills that winding, dream-like haze, unhurried, and is peppered with some of the best songs of Michael's career to date. At its very heart is a song called "Hero"; a scorched epic that propagates the essence of the whole record into a sub five-minute psych-fuzz song. KIWANUKA is Michael serving from the heart, from the mind, and from the soul.
"This is a glorious album, full of confidence, range, vim, and stunning tunes. Kiuwanuka has been compared to Bill Withers and Terry Callier - you can hear evidence of both influences in the uplifting "Light" - but then, so have many singer-songwriters with sweet, soulful voices. With brilliant production from Danger Mouse and Inflo, this record encompasses many styles. Kiwanuka has absorbed music from his surroundings and background (his parents fled Idi Amin's Ugandan regime and settled in Muswell Hill; Ray and Dave Davies are no longer the sole music greats from that small corner of North London), then added his own personal twist, creating songs that soar and swoop."
"The album opens with "You Ain't the Problem", with Soca-like guitar and background party noise, morphing into a psyche-soul landscape that paves the way to his exquisite vocals. "Rolling" follows: Northern Soul with New Order-style bass lines. And on it goes: Kiwanuka has a lovely, expansive, positive vibe. Buy it on vinyl - it sounds so much better that way - and bang up the volume" - Phil Brett, Stereophile, March 2020 Issue
With his acoustic sound and timelessly soulful voice, British singer/songwriter Michael Kiwanuka emerged to acclaim in 2011 combining folk, indie rock, and R&B with traditions borrowed from his Ugandan heritage. Drawing favorable comparisons to Curtis Mayfield, Terry Callier, and Van Morrison, Kiwanuka earned a Mercury Prize nomination for his debut album, 2012's Home Again, and won the BBC's Sound of 2012. He further cemented his reputation as a gifted and rootsy performer with his sophomore album, 2016's Love & Hate, which went gold, landing at number one in the U.K.
- Double LP
- Album artwork by Markeidric
- Gatefold jacket
- You Ain't The Problem
- I've Been Dazed
- Piano Joint (This Kind Of Love) Intro
- Piano Joint (This Kind Of Love)
- Another Human Being (Interlude)
- Living In Denial
- Hard to Say Goodbye
- Final Days
- Interlude (Loving The People)
- Solid Ground