Michael Kiwanuka: Home Again
Michael Kiwanuka: Home Again– It’s a pity that some artists feel the need to be dressed up like props on a stage. Take Bjork and the bird protruding from her head. The incubating eggs being shaken violently from underneath the sitting mother Blackbird as Bjork goes wassailing from concert to concert, dressed like some rejected, ridiculous magenta Rainbow Bright character. To stay alive, to stay relevant, Bjork must continually blow smoke, dazzle with boas and distill white wine from her costume’s headpiece. Without her tricks, the world might realize she has never been weird, just someone with a full closet of junk. Coerced reactions for all their jolt, rarely provide anything permanent or worthwhile.
It’s unlikely that Michael Kiwanuka carries costumes to his shows, nor does wildlife fester in his hair. Kiwanuka’s debut record, Home Again, delivers the most natural recording I have heard in 15 years. Look elsewhere for hard, bloated gristle. This is an artist whose personal war begins below sea level. Rarely do I believe the pain and struggles described by successful musicians; hundreds of thousands of dollars build nice forts and provide wonderful psychologists. I can see Kiwanuka walk the street, fail tall obstacles and taste the bad Wednesdays in a job he can’t stand. You have met this guy, you like this guy and now he wants you to buy a record out of the back of the sedan he hasn’t quite paid off yet… And you want to!
Kiwanuka can sing. There are no traces of vocoder, distortion, or echo on these vocal tracks. Why dress up something that already wears starched, pressed suits seven days a week? It’s the voice that makes the difference, provides distinction and gives clarity. He won’t warble through phrases to sound mysterious, create abstract images to puzzle his audience or perhaps extend his demographic. This is not a man looking for a media image; he just wants you to hear him out. Home Again‘s delivery is pensive, disciplined, and one of the most genuine and memorable records to emerge from anywhere in ages. While there may be many choices out there, Kiwanuka’s one of the few to have no use for baubles or Joseph’s technicolor coat. The natural is just that, natural…9.5/10