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Kiwanuka: third time's a charm

By Marc Zisman |

The British singer reveals more than ever with his new third album.

His third album is entitled Kiwanuka… does that mean that Michael Kiwanuka has finally come to peace with himself? Since starting out in 2012, the Londoner has not stopped questioning his place in the arts, his relationship to his musical influences, his own identity and his role in a society still plagued by racism…

Following the release of his brilliant debut album Home Again, Kiwanuka was inaugurated as the next big thing for contemporary soul. His thought-provoking soul was blended with Terry Callier-style folk and scents of the seventies. Some even compared him to Bill Withers, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye!

On his second album, Love & Hate, released in 2016, the songwriter explored his rock side without forgetting his gospel and soul roots, and was joined by Danger Mouse in the production studio.

Kiwanuka walks in the footsteps of the artist’s previous records: the lyrics are still politically engaged and the instrumentals just as rich, though he seems more relaxed on this album. Danger Mouse is once again behind the production console, this time adding a new dimension and strength to the sound: we find cinematic soul, larger-than-life gospel, funky wah-wah guitars, sensual strings, big bass, long instrumentals… we could go on!

It’s all there right from the opening track You Ain’t The Problem, a real masterpiece of soul. Michael Kiwanuka has never tried to hide his love for Marvin Gaye and What’s Going On (his favourite album of all time) and Trouble Man often come to mind, even if the two men’s voices are fundamentally different.

This third work from the 32-year-old Brit reveals an unprecedented density. And each time you listen to Kiwanuka you notice something new, be it a subtle arrangement, a thoughtful lyric or a thinly disguised instrument. A magnificent album.

In 2016, Qobuz sat down with the singer-songwriter at the time of the release of his second album, Love & Hate.

Another bonus: Kiwanuka even performed a live rendition of the single Love & Hate, exclusively for Qobuz.


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