Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again
Michael Kiwanuka's debut album, 'Home Again', was produced by Paul Butler (The Bees) in his vintage equipment-stuffed basement studio at his house in Ventnor on the Isle Of Wight.
Together the pair played almost every instrument to be heard on the album, with Butler's remarkably intimate, detailed productions – adorned with everything from flute to brass to sitar to aching strings – perfectly matching Kiwanuka's visions for his songs. "The way we made the record was very modern," the singer points out. "There was loads of editing. We manipulated it to get exactly what we wanted."
From the opening bars of the stirring 'Tell Me A Tale', it is instantly clear that 'Home Again' is a very special album. While its more upbeat characteristics are embodied in the Prince Buster-like loping of the lovelorn but irresistibly catchy 'Bones' and the rolling soul groove of 'I'll Get Along', elsewhere it proves itself to be a record of real stripped-down beauty.
In 'I Won't Lie', with its gospel-infused echoes of The Staples Singers, Kiwanuka offers something akin to a modern spiritual, while in 'Rest' he turns in a tender "love lullaby" and in 'Always Waiting', he blends classical elements with the confessional intimacy of Roberta Flack.
It is with the title track of 'Home Again', however, that Michael Kiwanuka feels the record's sounds and themes are ultimately encapsulated. "That's the song that really for me ties everything together," he says. "It's one of the earliest songs I wrote for the album and even though I progressed and changed stuff in the studio, it was the one I could never throw away. Like a lot of them, it's a hopeful song. I use home as the metaphor for contentment and peace within."
Other parts of the record, on the other hand, find Kiwanuka struggling for peace of mind and using his songs as a form of self-empowerment, not least in the soulful 'I'm Getting Ready', the darker, unburdening 'Any Day Will Do Fine' and the self-explanatory 'Worry Walks Beside Me'. "It can really paralyse you, if you worry too much," the singer admits. "I do tend to overthink things. All of these songs are me talking to myself, really. Trying to encourage myself to believe."
On the evidence of the stunning 'Home Again', of course, Kiwanuka is clearly not a musician who should be wrestling with doubts. It is an album that is set to make the liquid-voiced singer an international name and touch its listeners in the same way as his favourite records inspired Michael Kiwanuka himself.
"I'd just like for the songs to mean something in people's lives," he concludes. "That for me is what music ultimately is for. All of our favourite records, you can remember where you were when you first heard them. Or they might remind you of a time or someone. My hope is that these songs will move people."
Release Date : 31 Jul 2012