Michael Kiwanuka: KIWANUKA (Interscope) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Michael Kiwanuka



Nov 08, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share

On his third studio album, London’s Michael Kiwanuka dives even deeper into the R&B, funk and soul influences of 2016’s Love & Hatesetting out to explore distortion, voice samples, darkness and light, and a recurring motif of identity.

Produced by Inflo and Danger Mouse, KIWANUKA is an overtly personal, calculated record. The title, the cover art, the themes explored (belonging, expectations, what it means to be an artist)they all act as prisms of Kiwanuka’s own personality, reflecting back amidst the darker moments and stripped back points of peace.

At once, on the album’s opening track and first single “You Ain’t the Problem,” Kiwanuka embraces honest individuality: “No need to play myself/No need to die/I’m only human,” he sings. And on “Rolling,” a fuzzy ode to taking your time, Kiwanuka explores his own sense of time and ambition.

The album plays through effortlessly, the tracks sometimes seamlessly flowing into one another. There are even introduction tracks to some of the meatier songs (“Hero,” for example), that allow for varying approaches to melody.

In light of the heavier, darker moments, there are moments of real levity here as well. “Hard to Say Goodbye” is a moving, orchestral sweep, armed with overdriven guitars, while “Solid Ground” is a stripped back search for that belonging (“I will be found on the edge of the world/Where there’ll be no one around”), that escalates into gospel.

Evidently, the singer/songwriter’s abilities have matured at an incredible pace since his first and second efforts. Even for fans of his debut, the soft-spoken, acoustic Home Again, Kiwinuka’s latest features some of the DNA of that record as wellalbeit in light of his new-found electric, sharper side. (www.michaelkiwanuka.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 5/10


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