English Juggernaut Michael Kiwanuka Drops His Latest Album ‘KIWANUKA’
Releasing his self titled album ‘KIWANUKA’, it is great to see the one and only, Michael Kiwanuka back again. The English Indie-Folk singer is highly recognized for his amazing instrumental and production talents, but what really sets him apart is his songwriting capabilities. The songwriter captivates and audience with raw and powerful vocals that can reach any range.
Kiwanuka does not give us a short hand with this project, he showed that he is here to leave us entranced to this album. The closest thing to total serenity, this album has all the surreal and soothing sounds you want to hear. Michael gives us a total of 14 flawless tracks, from vocal heavy tunes to strictly instrumentals.
Listening to this project on repeat, you quickly notice there are no features and in all honestly that’s the best way for this album! That being said the back up vocals on certain tracks really elevate the production of the tune.
The 32 year old kicked this project off with a fan favorite track ‘You Ain’t The Problem’. This tune fits the rest of the project by holding that vintage type of sound Michael flaunts on this project. It does however hold a more up beat sound, and lyrically is encouraging for the listener to fine their confidence. ‘Rolling’ was one of those tracks, that has recognizable sounds, like the guitar strums and catchy vocal flows that Michael sings in. This track is one that is easily to recognize when hitting that shuffle button. Slowing down that guitar strums on the next tune and giving us a very haunting vocal lead, ‘I’ve Been Dazed’ is a track that really seems more like a self reflecting tune that we just can’t get enough of!
Keeping the project in a mellow vibe, his song ‘Piano Joint’ is composed of tracks 4 & 5, with 4 being an intro. the intro builds in very heavenly as the vocal humming leads the tune to a very teasing sound of sharp guitars, all of this is met with rejuvenating drums and powerful low vocals to lead you into the rest of the tune on track 5. There you will here the harmonics of the intro die down smoothly into a soft piano and clear vocals from Kiwanuka. The rhythm and power of his vocals, makes this my favorite track on the project. With angelic sounding chords, slowly transitioning to extraterrestrial interaction the next track offers no singing. ‘Another Human Being’ is a very creative bridge in the middle of the project.
‘Living In Denial’ restarts the project with a mild beat that has great complimentary back up vocals, to amp up Kiwanuka’s vocals and musical talents. Lyrically touching on braking your own self down by not facing the truth, this tune really hit’s the feels. Tracks 8 & 9 mimic the concept of ‘Piano Joint’. With 8 & 9 being ‘Hero’, 8 is the intro and 9 is the rest of the tune. Starting off with just a soft guitar and a muffled vocal chorus trying to find self recognition, this ghost like intro really set up track 9 to come in and take over. With a smooth transition the guitar enter with a more lively tone and the vocals are clear! with more rhythm and an extra step to it, this track really turns into a more empowering tune opposed a self reflective track. I guess there really are two sides to every coin.
The longest track is just over 7 minutes, ‘Hard To Say Goodbye’ offers a very hefty build up, that doesn’t give away what path the track will take. Even though the build up takes time, the production value and transitions really do keep you engaged. Once the vocals kick in on this tune, they directly resonate with the listener. With a busy beat surrounding the vocals they still manage to keep you locked into the words, and you can relate to the difficulty of saying goodbye. ‘Final Days’ caught me off guard because you assume it will be up tempo but the piano keeps the song grounded as it humbles you into lyrical content of being deflated, until the rhythm offers a up tempo pick me up to uplift your mood. Before ending the album, Michael throws another bridge with his ‘Interlude (Loving The People)’. Another display of his instrumental talents.
‘Solid Ground’ is another mysterious track with lyrics that discuss loneliness and the majority of the track is lead by the vocals. Only at the last few minutes does this track incorporate more instruments to the track. You finally see the end of the tunnel as the last song ‘Light’ illuminates the way. With an acoustic set up and transitioning soulful to grunge vocals, this tune offers a reviving feeling as they adventure comes to an end.
This was one of my favorite projects of the year, it was a journey of thoughts and emotions to get lost in. The most beautiful part, is a casual fan and purists will both be able to relate to this amazing project. Inviting you to hit that Repeat button, Michael Kiwanuka, you have won the day.
Buddha Fact: Michael & I were both born on May 3rd.