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Soul - Released January 1, 2012 | Polydor

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Hi-Res Audio - Sélection du Mercury Prize
An age ago, major labels signed artists knowing it would take three, four, or even five records before she or he matured sufficiently to build a a dedicated audience. Some labels even signed "prestige artists," those who wouldn't necessarily make boatloads of cash, but their presence on one's roster would attract those who would. These days, the expectations for someone to deliver out of the gate are ridiculous. Michael Kiwanuka is the promising British singer/songwriter who won the BBC Sound of 2012 poll. Home Again is his full-length debut. From the front cover you can see -- then hear -- how everything about this album and Kiwanuka's image is laser-focused on the retro pop and soul vibe that saturates his country's music scene. The Bees' Paul Butler produced all but one track here. A throwback approach is his signature and, considering what Polydor wanted, may actually seem warranted given Kiwanuka's wise-beyond-his-years singing voice and songwriting style. There are very bright moments in this mesh of organic sounds (that are occasionally embellished -- very slightly -- by Moogs). Kiwanuka and Butler play an astonishing array of instruments here, and are ably assisted by select session players elsewhere. Standouts include the opening "Tell Me a Tale," the set's strongest cut. Kiwanuka's voice resembles Terry Callier's closely enough to warrant Butler virtually aping Charles Stepney's production style. "Bones," with its combination of doo wop backing chorus, brushed hi-hats, and jazzy guitar vamp, finds Kiwanuka in fine yet contrasting world-weary voice. The blues in "Worry Walks Beside Me" are underscored by a shimmering B-3 just behind a hazy electric guitar and stacked backing vocals. The title track commences with a fingerpicked acoustic guitar, but a Rhodes piano, multi-tracked cellos, and even a doubling of Kiwanuka's vocal brings us into contemporary indie terrain. But there are problems. Butler's attempt at making a record sound vintage paints by the numbers so carefully that he never gets below a song's surface -- despite the emotional intensity in Kiwanuka's voice. Also, while Kiwanuka is extremely talented, his songwriting needs work; some tunes are weighed down by clunky melodic or clumsy lyric turns. Despite difficulties, Home Again is a promising debut by an artist who will no doubt deliver big if developed properly. ~ Thom Jurek
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Soul - Released July 15, 2016 | Polydor

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Qobuzissime
28-year-old Michael Kiwanuka's second album, Love & Hate, comes 4 years after his first, and with it, a more refined sound. The same soulful tones that gave Kiwanuka such a broad following remain the focal point of the new album, as do the lilting melodies and baleful lyrics, but thanks to producers Dangermouse and Inflo, as well as a huge supporting cast of musicians, this album manages to throw the punch we were promised by the first. Beginning with a 9 minute, Pink Floyd inspired 'opus', the album feels expansive and varied. It feels like a coming of age record, a musical maturation for this singer, who is already being hailed as one of the greatest voices around. Ranging from sweeping orchestral arrangements to melancholy introspections, this second effort seems more mature and measured, but remains a 'nearly' moment. Overdone and overloaded, this second album has lost some of the immediacy and realness that made the first stand out. Kiwanuka's voice is sometimes overwhelmed by the size and scale of the arrangements, rather than playing to his strengths. Nevertheless, the overall quality of the record will undoubtedly make it a big winner this year. RK/Qobuz
€17.48
€12.99

Soul - Released January 1, 2012 | Polydor

Hi-Res Distinctions Hi-Res Audio
An age ago, major labels signed artists knowing it would take three, four, or even five records before she or he matured sufficiently to build a a dedicated audience. Some labels even signed "prestige artists," those who wouldn't necessarily make boatloads of cash, but their presence on one's roster would attract those who would. These days, the expectations for someone to deliver out of the gate are ridiculous. Michael Kiwanuka is the promising British singer/songwriter who won the BBC Sound of 2012 poll. Home Again is his full-length debut. From the front cover you can see -- then hear -- how everything about this album and Kiwanuka's image is laser-focused on the retro pop and soul vibe that saturates his country's music scene. The Bees' Paul Butler produced all but one track here. A throwback approach is his signature and, considering what Polydor wanted, may actually seem warranted given Kiwanuka's wise-beyond-his-years singing voice and songwriting style. There are very bright moments in this mesh of organic sounds (that are occasionally embellished -- very slightly -- by Moogs). Kiwanuka and Butler play an astonishing array of instruments here, and are ably assisted by select session players elsewhere. Standouts include the opening "Tell Me a Tale," the set's strongest cut. Kiwanuka's voice resembles Terry Callier's closely enough to warrant Butler virtually aping Charles Stepney's production style. "Bones," with its combination of doo wop backing chorus, brushed hi-hats, and jazzy guitar vamp, finds Kiwanuka in fine yet contrasting world-weary voice. The blues in "Worry Walks Beside Me" are underscored by a shimmering B-3 just behind a hazy electric guitar and stacked backing vocals. The title track commences with a fingerpicked acoustic guitar, but a Rhodes piano, multi-tracked cellos, and even a doubling of Kiwanuka's vocal brings us into contemporary indie terrain. But there are problems. Butler's attempt at making a record sound vintage paints by the numbers so carefully that he never gets below a song's surface -- despite the emotional intensity in Kiwanuka's voice. Also, while Kiwanuka is extremely talented, his songwriting needs work; some tunes are weighed down by clunky melodic or clumsy lyric turns. Despite difficulties, Home Again is a promising debut by an artist who will no doubt deliver big if developed properly. ~ Thom Jurek
€12.99

Soul - Released July 15, 2016 | Polydor

Distinctions 4F de Télérama
On his ambitious sophomore set, London native Michael Kiwanuka expands outward from the warm retro-soul of 2012 debut, Home Again. With its trio of producers and transatlantic recording locales, Love & Hate arrives with the weight of high expectations. Announcing his intentions from the start, Kiwanuka challenges listeners with "Cold Little Heart," an exquisitely arranged, ten-minute opus of lush strings and elegant backing vocals whose first line doesn't arrive until the halfway point. It's a Homeric bit of heartbroken prog-soul that shows off its creator's lead guitar chops as much as his rich, sandy voice. Co-produced by Danger Mouse and Inflo, it also introduces the heavy tonal palette that runs through the remainder of the album's ten tracks, even those produced by Kiwanuka's longtime collaborator, Paul Butler. Where Home Again was ultimately an intimate and gentler affair, Love & Hate puts some distance between singer and audience as he offers his worldweary introspections against the framework of '70s R&B, funk, and spaced-out rock. The timely social commentary of lead single "Black Man in a White World" feels lonesome and heavy in spite of its uptempo, hand-clapped rhythm and nimble guitar groove. Throughout the album, the space between parts is somehow wider, yet each tambourine hit, backing vocal, or funky guitar lick feels darker and more severe. The mildly psychedelic title cut is a mid-album standout whose slow-burning swagger and epic seven-minute length is countered by the tight, punchy "One More Night." Overall, Love & Hate has very little of the breezy, quietly strummed charm of its predecessor, but it represents serious growth from an artist deliberately pushing his boundaries. With this release, Kiwanuka has delivered a dark, graceful, and affecting artistic statement that is worth the patience it takes to experience it. ~ Timothy Monger

Soul - Released February 24, 2017 | Polydor

Soul - Released February 10, 2017 | Polydor

Soul - Released October 28, 2016 | Polydor

Soul - Released July 29, 2016 | Polydor

Soul - Released June 22, 2016 | Polydor

Soul - Released May 20, 2016 | Polydor

Soul - Released April 8, 2016 | Polydor

Soul - Released April 8, 2016 | Polydor

Soul - Released March 25, 2016 | Polydor

Artist

Michael Kiwanuka in the magazine