Album Review: home again michael kawanuka

18 March 2012 | 12:57 pm | Marc Zanotti

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Michael Kiwanuka is a British singer/songwriter of Ugandan descent whose ability to fuse folk and soul music recently led to the 24 year old musician taking out the BBC Sound of 2012 poll. Home Again is Kiwanuka's debut record, an album that in many ways is reminiscent of vintage Motown. Deep bass lines, drum brushes, rhythmic guitars, strings and gentle piano are combined with rich harmonies and gospel sensibilities to recreate a rich '70s R&B sound. I'll Get Along and Bones are both throwbacks as is opening track, Tell Me A Tale. Behind jazz flutes, swallow drums and horns the verses of Tell Me A Tale invoke visions of dimly lit bars where the band is barely visible through air laden thick with smoke. Then tones change and the very same instruments create a joyous chorus that opens up with spiritual fulfilment.

Yet it's Kiwanuka's voice that is what impacts with listeners most on Home Again. There's sincerity in his soulful delivery, which despite his age, aches with experience. The title track stands out as a simple tune powered by the yearning of Kinwanuka's vocals. More folk than soul, this acoustic song is full of heart as Kinwanuka sings, “Home again, home again, one day I know I'll feel home again”.

On the whole his debut is a testament to will, love and optimism, free of irony and cynicism, yet never manufactured or nauseating. It's the kind of record that, if allowed, will envelop you and warm your soul. With a nostalgic sound and a familiar feeling, Home Again is calming, humble and honest.