on 17 April 2012
Having heard Michael Kiwanuka on the radio I bought his CD because there was something special about his voice.
For me its a very spiritual album but not a religious one and this I discovered when I was listening to it. I did not buy it
because I was looking for the spiritual, I bought it because I recognised something beautiful.
I recommend this CD to anyone who needs or wants to take time out to be still and soothed.....this will do it for you:)
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.
on 30 March 2012
I agree with a previous reviewer, if Michael Kiwanuka hadn't been a BBC winner of sound of the year, and instead an artist that people stumbled onto, this album would have better reviews. As is, there seems to be a lot of "over produced"/"not what I expected" reviews.
I listened to a lot of these songs on youtube, before the album was released so I knew what to expect. A lovely slow burning album wrapped up in his soft, subtle voice. Music to while an evening away with loved ones.
I look forward to more from Mr Kiwanuka.
on 11 June 2012
There is something special about Michael Kiwanuka's music. The instrumentation manages to capture the magic of folk music while his voice encapsulates the raw emotion of soul music, with both combining together to produce some truly beautiful music. 'Home Again' is Kiwanuka's début album and it is one of the greatest of recent times.
This is an album that stands out because every track sounds complete. Often we will hear songs that fall short of their mark or fail to even identify a mark, but not a single song on here faces either of those problems. Songs like title track 'Home Again' show Kiwanuka's ability to craft a well-rounded song that reach a climax and then gently come back down to a mellow ending. Others, such as 'Rest' and 'Always Waiting' show a gentler approach - one that leads to a track of transcendental beauty from start to finish.
'I'll Get Along' deserves a special mention as one of the standout tracks. Characterised by breezy instrumentation and a melody that floats gracefully upon it, it stands out as one of the more accessible songs on the album. This track is the feel-good sound of summer 2012.
The only quibble with this album is the order of the tracks. Some songs feel a bit out-of-place and as if they should be elsewhere in the tracklisting. Plodding ballad-esque song 'Rest' is the best example of this, being the fourth track when it should ideally be much later. However, this does little to stop the flow of the album in the slightest.
Though this album will mostly appeal to afficionados of acoustic folk and soul music, it does have tracks of merit to a wider audience. These tracks, such as 'I'm Getting Ready' and 'I'll Get Along', have an accessible enough sound that they could break the mainstream. And this is what makes the album so great: its potential to make Kiwanuka a household name.
If angst and darkness are what you are looking for, you won't find it here. But you will find wisdom delivered by a smooth voice and a talented soul that has known sadness. This is definitely worth a listen.
- Reviewed for Bypass Music News: ReVerb
on 2 April 2012
Having caught a glimpse of some of this man's work on Later with Jools Holland I was hoping for great things with this album, and I have to say I was not disappointed. This is a superb album, such a pity then it is so badly produced. Paul Butler hang your head in shame. If you are reading this it's time you went back to school to learn how to produce music. No matter what eq setting you apply to this album it still sounds awful.
Michael next time you are in the studio make sure you get a far better producer and engineer, you deserve much better than this. I truly hope that others appreciate your talent - truly a rising star.
Unlike most of the previous reviewers, this album is my only exposure to Michael Kiwanuka's music. Although I like it, I wouldn't describe it as a work that shows promise. Its strength is in its execution of some largely unremarkable songs.
Four tracks are outstanding. The first, 'Tell Me A Tale' sounds like something recorded about forty years ago, with its retro brass, woodwind and lightly swinging jazz inflection. The second, 'I'm Getting Ready', is wrapped in a warm, acoustic feel. 'Bones' feels as if it goes back to the fifties, with its brushes and gospel-like choir. This, I think, is also the most articulate lyric. Finally, 'Always Waiting' boasts a lovely melody.
Another plus point is Kiwanuka's vocal style. A comparison with Bill Withers is understandable; he has a feeling for soul bereft of the histrionics that have blighted most of the genre since Houston and Carey got hold of it. His voice, however, is much softer.
The rest of the album is better than average, but the material isn't. I was hoping to hear something a little more adventurous than the 'lonely without you' theme that dominates.
I certainly recommend 'Home Again', which isn't bad coming from someone who isn't really a soul fan, but I don't think the artist will improve on this unless he can throw the shackles off his songwriting.
on 14 December 2012
like many, i first heard about this album through the sound of 2012 poll. having listened to the preview of a few of the songs i decided to pick it up and have a listen - the fact that im writing this approximately half a year after i bought it should tell you how highly i rate this album!
now i cant claim to know what summers in the 1970s were like, but id guess they sounded something like this. press play and the first song 'tell me tale' beams this powerful soulful voice and you might think you were listening to otis redding or bill withers, track 2 and 'im getting ready' and this silky smooth voice sings along with music to make you feel like you're outside at the beach with wind gently blowing in your face. other tracks such as 'bones' have the feeling of a dinner in a trendy jazz cafe.
i could go on talking about each track individually, but if i could summarise the feeling of the album id say each track gives you a feeling of warmth and transports on a journey away from your worries everytime you hear that mesmerising voice.
Sure music has moved on over the years, but albums like this while new in time are unmistakeably old in style and trust me, that's no bad thing.
on 6 August 2014
This is a very cool album, I heard a track somewhere (I can't even remember where) and looked him up and bought the album on spec. I opened it this evening whilst on a 4th date with a very nice lady and I couldn't have asked for better music on the occasion. Its great background but also great when you tune in and listen. Highly recommended for a chilled evening with a bottle of wine.
on 6 May 2012
I first heard of Michael Kiwanuka while on You Tube looking for independent singer-songwriters and I was so impressed with his music I immediately ordered the Cd on Amazon UK. WOW! I absolutely Love this Cd. It contains some of the best original music selections I have heard from a singer-songwriter in a very long time. The lyric content is well written, smart, moving and touches the heart. I would recommend it to anyone who loves great music especially original material. There is not a song on this Cd that I don't like. I can honestly say I love them all and if any one of them stands out for me it is Home Again, I'll Get Along and Worry Walks Beside Me which is my personal favorite. I listen to this Cd every day and feel blessed to have it early because it doesn't drop in the US until June! Well Done, Michael!Well Done!!! I have since received several Cd recommendations from Amazon UK that I am very impressed with. Thanks Amazon UK!
on 13 March 2012
Ordered this album after hearing just one song previously - and I am not disappointed. Effortless vocals that deliver depth and soul, uplifting lyrics and music, and beautifully crafted production. Pray that this guy can keep grounded, as I can't possibly believe that this won't be a massive hit. It'll be one of the few albums I will never tire of, I'm sure.