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Album of the Week: Michael Kiwanuka

The genre-defying star releases his timeless third album, Kiwanuka

Michael Kiwanuka returns with his ground-breaking new album, Kiwanuka.

While his first two albums cemented him as a master of soulful indie-folk, his third effort shifts the tempo and sees him reunite with producers Danger Mouse and Inflo – who also collaborated on his last release, 2016’s Love & Hate.

The new record follows his Mercury-nominated, gold-selling debut, Home Again and second album Love & Hate – created in partnership with Gnarls Barkley, Danger Mouse and Inflo – which celebrated his cultural heritage and acknowledged his struggles with identity and self-acceptance, while also landing him a second Mercury nod.

Kiwanuka changes tack once more. While continuing to show vulnerability, the tracks also feel positive and confident. His songs simultaneously manage to feel both nostalgic and modern.

Fusing gospel rock, psychedelic funk notes, and jazz, he tackles topics including politics, racism and his own self-doubt. The album was made to be listened to in one sitting – a soulful exploration of world issues tinged with sparks of hope and wisdom.

Brilliant opener You Ain’t the Problem stands out – it’s soulful and catchy melody contrasts with the pointed lyrics which criticize society’s attitude towards immigration.

The murder of civil rights activist and Black Panther member Fred Hampton by police in 1969 forms the narrative of melancholic ballad Hero, with US police shootings, also popping up in Rolling.

While much of the record experiments with a mixture of twanging guitar riffs, twinkling piano keys and exploratory psychedelic synth melodies – a Danger Mouse influence, he also offers up gospel choirs, horns and beautiful balladry in the form of Piano Joint (This Kind of Love) and Hard to Say Goodbye, and the contemplation of a nuclear apocalypse in the ‘80s inspired jam Final Days.

The delicacy of album closer Light bursts with heartfelt optimism against a backdrop of dreamy strings. It’s masterful and soul-baring and makes for the perfect ending to a modern masterpiece.

Don’t miss him live next year as Michael hits the road for dates in both March and November 2020. [Find Tickets]


Tracklisting:
1. You Ain’t The Problem
2. Rolling
3. I’ve Been Dazed
4. Piano Joint (This Kind of Love) (Intro)
5. Piano Joint (This Kind of Love)
6. Another Human Being
7. Living In Denial
8. Hero (Intro)
9. Hero Lyrics
10. Hard To Say Goodbye
11. Final Days
12. Interlude (Loving The People)
13.Solid Ground
14. Light


Listen to Kiwanuka on Spotify:

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