It’s been an absolute age since we last saw MICHAEL KIWANUKA round these parts. It was a stunningly intimate show at the Brudenell back in 2012 when he’d just been announced as the BBC’s Sound of 2012.
Since then, he’s gone on to conquer the world with his goosebump-inducing second album Love And Hate which came out last year.
His voice has soothed me through some pretty tough times – so achingly soulful and blues-drenched way beyond his 30 years, it’s just sublime. Love And Hate quickly became a firm favourite of mine and has remained a well-played
From the rolling lilt of bold opener Cold Little Heart, which accompanied scenes of Californian coast lines in the opening credits of HBO’s miniseries Big Little Lies, to the delicacy of Falling, Love And Hate is a stirring confessional.
It is as uplifting as it as melancholic, masterfully as assured as it sounds on the surface, you don’t have to dig to deep to find self-doubt by the barrel load. “I’ll never hold somebody for very long,” he admits on I’ll Never Love, a sparse, lonely lament.
And, as the album begins to wind down, the spiky blues guitar introducing closing track, The Final Frame, we remain captivated by the soulful sorrow as Kiwanuka wrings out so much heartache from his guitar – one of my favourite solos of recent times.
But it’s not all heartfelt and melancholy. I’m A Black Man In A White World places his isolation in the hands of a deep gospel-inspired Afrobeat groove, upbeat and “I’m in love but I’m still sad, I’ve found peace but I’m not glad,” he sings over sprightly hand claps and funky strings and brass.
Produced by Dangermouse, he of Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz and Black Keys fame, the album is seeped in a retro warmth, timeless and spacious, giving Kiwanuka’s voice the reach it requires to really hit home.
Lucky fans can get to experience Michael Kiwanuka’s masterful music live next week as he embarks on a huge UK tour. Pretty much all the dates are now sold out, but you can still grab some for
Monday, October 16 – Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Tuesday, October 17 – Lowry Theatre, Salford
Wednesday, October 18 – Concert Hall, Perth
Friday, October 20 – Barbican, York
Saturday, October 21 – Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
Monday, October 23 – Great Hall, Exeter
Tuesday, October 24 – Dome, Brighton
Wednesday, October 25 – Palladium, London
Final tickets can be snapped up from Seetickets.com.