Album: Michael Kiwanuka, Home Again (Polydor)


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The Independent Culture

The words "mellow" and "soul" should never be written in conjunction with each other. So let's not.

Instead let us consider Kiwanuka not as a generic descendant of Bill Withers, whom he resembles faintly in some respects, but as a pretty voice in a cultivated frame; as a sort of jazzy, kind-of-soulful, wholesome pop-folk singer of simple, non-swinging but beautifully arranged songs about uncomplicated emotions.

Home Again is sweet, inoffensive, well intentioned and gently, grainily melancholic, and it operates most fluently at that low temperature which offends some while delighting others. But consider this: MK's sweetness feels instinctual, his gentleness a function of his musical nature rather than some marketing department's idea of what might be seductive. Only in the Terry Callier-esque "Tell Me a Tale" does he sound like a mellow soul-jazz doll in a presentation box. That'll be the jazz flute.