Monday, 26 March 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #116 - Michael Kiwanuka, "Home Again"

Suspicious of this album on account of its Brit School-ness and its faux antiquity, but also keen to explore. See, I don't really give a shit about voices - not in terms of their power, or (fuck me!) authenticity, or melismatic nonsense; and this sounds like a "voice album". Also, I saw a video of a truly wanky version of "Whole Lotta Love" with a sitar that needed a slap.

First track is warm and Afrobeaty, which is good. "Tell Me A Tale" it's called. Then there's "I'm Getting Ready", which I know from adverts and radio and what have you, but which wears its Nick Drake fumbly-fingered guitar style with some panache. He swings by a bit more traditional soul sound - somewhere in the vicinity of Bill Withers - in "I'll Get Along" with its flute solo and that. He seems keen to tick a lot of boxes; and it may be that I've been suckered in, but I get the feeling it's genuine.

I can see a logic in bringing back the Seventies in music at a time when it feels like a lot of the battles that were being lost that decade are being lost again now. "Home Again" maybe tickles that particular trout. A sense of no longer being at home, but the time will come when "the tears will clear". The majestic brassy barp at the beginning of "I Won't Lie" feels good too. "Always Waiting" has a bit of a Sergio Leone feel, walking off to the sunset.

There's a lyrical theme of Michael acting on his own. "Can't find peace all on my own," he sings. But I'm not sure he's looking for peace right now. I think he's ready for some more brooding heroism first. "Any Day Will Do Fine" says him smooching up to a lady: "After this song is through/I'll be changing my ways." "Worry Walks Beside Me" underlines his trouble man persona that wee bit more. In case I hadn't picked up on it by now.

So I've nothing too profound to say about him: more than musical furniture. He fits well with the company he's evoking and I can hear the humanity. But I won't be poring over him too often again.

Rating: Trouble out of Oil Crisis

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