Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate (2016): Review

kiwanuka

Produced by Danger Mouse, Inflo and Paul Butler
Label – Polydor/Interscope

Kiwanuka has long been touted as the next great British R&B singer songwriter. In 2012 he earned the respected honour of winning BBC’s New Sounds poll, and with debut long player “Home Again”, a critical success that pointed clearly to a sharpening of classical values from influences such as Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield and Van Morrison. “Love And Hate” is a hugely ambitious project, an opus of instrumental grandeur with a lyrical soul that logs loss and longing, self analysis and fragility. The musical foundations are guided by experienced producer Brian Burton (A.K.A. Danger Mouse), whose cohesive backdrops form the bedrock to Kiwanuka’s aching vocals. It’s an R&B/soul album touched by a hint of blues, retro psychedelia and progressive rock, for a challenging, deadly serious and weighty exploration. Driven by the magnificent ten minute epic, “Cold Little Heart”, the remaining nine tracks are truly engaging, and yet, never seem to match the spectacular opener. The song reveals the singers unrest, self doubt and indecision as it segues between two distinct symphonic suites. Never willingly understated, it contains five choirs, an extensive string arrangement and a guitar lead that revives the sound of 1970s George Harrison at his best.

It’s an album of moderate growth, intense, at times stirring, and portrays Kiwanuka as a troubled, yet seemingly vital soul voice.

8/10

Track Listing
1 – Cold Little Heart
2 – Black Man In A White World
3 – Falling
4 – Place I Belong
5 – Love & Hate
6 – One More Night
7 – I’ll Never Love
8 – Rule The World
9 – Father’s Child
10 – The Final Frame

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