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Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again (Deluxe)

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Home Again (Deluxe)

Michael Kiwanuka

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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 /TiVo

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Home Again (Deluxe)

Michael Kiwanuka

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1
Tell Me A Tale
00:04:09

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Drums, Harp, Percussion, Tambourine, Trumpet, Baritone Saxophone, Guiro, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Parkin, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Kiwanuka, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Synthesizer, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Gary Plumley, Flute, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, AssociatedPerformer - Jon McMullen, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2011 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

2
I'm Getting Ready
00:02:21

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Drums, Percussion, Trumpet, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tim Parkin, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Kiwanuka, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Paul Armfield, Double Bass, AssociatedPerformer - Jon McMullen, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2011 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

3
I'll Get Along Album Version
00:03:26

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Cello, Drums, Percussion, Piano, Tambourine, Triangle, Sitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Kiwanuka, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Gary Plumley, Flute, AssociatedPerformer - Jon McMullen, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2012 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

4
Rest
00:03:50

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Cello, Drums, Percussion, Piano, Synthesizer, Moog Bass, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Parkin, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Kiwanuka, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon McMullen, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2012 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

5
Home Again
00:03:29

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Cello, Drums, Percussion, Piano, Clapping, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Robin Schmidt, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Parkin, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Kiwanuka, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Clapping, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist, Bass (Vocal) - Jon McMullen, Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mira Nair, Producer

℗ 2011 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

6
Bones
00:03:45

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Drums, Percussion, Piano, Tabla, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Parkin, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Kiwanuka, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon McMullen, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2012 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

7
Always Waiting
00:04:30

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Double Bass, Drums, Percussion, Piano, Tambourine, Charango Guitar, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Andy Parkin, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Kiwanuka, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon McMullen, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2012 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

8
I Won't Lie Album Version
00:04:01

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Bells, Clarinet, Drums, Percussion, Piano, Tambourine, Trumpet, Baritone Saxophone, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Tim Parkin, Trumpet, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Kiwanuka, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon McMullen, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2012 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

9
Any Day Will Do Fine Album Version
00:03:37

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Drums, Percussion, Tambourine, Triangle, Trumpet, Baritone Saxophone, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Andy Parkin, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Guy Davies, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Kiwanuka, Acoustic Guitar, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon McMullen, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2012 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

10
Worry Walks Beside Me
00:04:57

Paul Butler, Producer, Mixer, Drums, Organ, Percussion, Piano, Tambourine, Trumpet, Violin, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel, ComposerLyricist - Guy Davie, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Kiwanuka, Bass Guitar, Electric Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Jon McMullen, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel

℗ 2011 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

11
They Say I'm Doing Just Fine
00:03:39

Tony Cousins, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Everton Nelson, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES GADSON, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Pleeth, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Peter Lale, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Kiernan, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Ethan Johns, Producer, Mixer, Ukulele, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Helen Atkinson, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Neil Cowley, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Dominic Monks, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Kiwanuka, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Arnie Somogyi, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2011 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

12
Now I'm Seeing
00:02:32

Tony Cousins, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Everton Nelson, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES GADSON, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Pleeth, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Peter Lale, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Kiernan, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Ethan Johns, Producer, Mixer, Percussion, Ukulele, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Helen Atkinson, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Neil Cowley, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Dominic Monks, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Kiwanuka, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Arnie Somogyi, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2011 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

13
Ode To You
00:03:20

Tony Cousins, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - JAMES GADSON, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Ethan Johns, Producer, Mixer, Guitar, Percussion, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Bob Babbitt, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Helen Atkinson, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Neil Cowley, Mellotron, AssociatedPerformer - Dominic Monks, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Kiwanuka, Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals, Background Vocalist, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2012 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

14
I'll Get Along Ethan Johns Session
00:03:47

Paul Butler, ComposerLyricist - Tony Cousins, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Everton Nelson, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES GADSON, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Pleeth, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Peter Lale, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Kiernan, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Ethan Johns, Producer, Mixer, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Bob Babbitt, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Helen Atkinson, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Neil Cowley, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - Dominic Monks, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Kiwanuka, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Stevie Van Lange, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2012 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

15
I Won't Lie Ethan Johns Session
00:04:00

Paul Butler, ComposerLyricist - Tony Cousins, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Everton Nelson, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - JAMES GADSON, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Anthony Pleeth, Cello, AssociatedPerformer - Peter Lale, Viola, AssociatedPerformer - Patrick Kiernan, Violin, AssociatedPerformer - Ethan Johns, Producer, Mixer, Percussion, AssociatedPerformer, StudioPersonnel - Helen Atkinson, Asst. Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Neil Cowley, Keyboards, AssociatedPerformer - Dominic Monks, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Michael Kiwanuka, Guitar, Vocals, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Alex Patten, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer - Arnie Somogyi, Bass Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Stevie Van Lange, Background Vocalist, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2012 Polydor Ltd. (UK)

Album Description

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 /TiVo

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