Top positive review
36 people found this helpful
Just my opinion, but...
on 19 March 2012
I have been kind of surprised by the mixed reaction to this album - I was particularly surprised by the amount of reviews on pretty much day one of the release. I like to spend a bit more time listening before I form an opinion, hopefully to provide a more rounded view.
Anyway, having spent the last week with Michael (figuratively speaking) I am glad to say that I'm very, very impressed. There has been real attention to detail when it comes to creating a collection of songs that would sit happily alongside a number of classic early 70's soul albums.
Its clear right from opening the CD case that Michael Kiwanuka's 'Home Again' album is heavily influenced by classic soul; the case has been put together to look remarkably like a record sleeve and is peppered with photos that feel like they were shot in the same era. Thankfully this attention to detail and homage to soul legends like Stevie Wonder, Bill Withers, Marvin Gaye etc. extends beyond the artwork and straight into the music.
The opening track 'Tell me a Tale' is a gorgeous song full strings and a smattering of horns that could have come straight from a Curtis Mayfield tune. Though still has a unique sound of its own, instrumentation is perfect. Michael Kiwanuka's vocal delivery brings Marvin Gaye to mind, smooth and soulful, with just an edge of pain and suffering.
Highlights come thick and fast through the early tracks. Notably, the third song 'I'll get Along' has a beautiful melody and the vocal is marvellously supported by the fluttering of flutes that is very reminiscent of Bill Withers. This song is immediately followed by one of the mellowest songs on the album 'Rest'- Which is so laid back, it can't help but calm you down, help you relax and put you in a contemplative mood with its simple rhythmic strumming and soft melancholy sound.
Similarly mellow and stripped back is title track 'Home Again' which is beautiful in its simplicity. This song lets you really appreciate the supreme talent housed in Michael Kiwanuka's voice, as there is little accompaniment beyond a solitary guitar for much of the tune.
Stand out songs for me in the second half of the album have to be 'Bones' which has a wonderful flavour of late 60's soul, especially in the chorus, along with the sad and soulful 'I won't Lie' and the astonishingly haunting final track 'Worry Walks Beside Me' - which is currently my favourite song on the album.
If you enjoy a smooth and mellow soulful sound and have, as I do, an affinity for 70s soul - there is a very good chance you will enjoy this album. If forced to throw a criticism at this wonderful album, I would have to say (though very much based on personal preference) there is a very slight under-reliance on horns. However, this is only even made slightly apparent by how good the horns are when they are present. It could just as easily be the fact that either a) I love horns a bit TOO much or b) Michael Kiwanuka knows how make a variety of gorgeous sounds, wants to share them all with us and understands that sometime less is more.