Michael Kiwanuka - 'KIWANUKA'

8/10

Since first emerging back in 2012 with his debut album 'Home Again', Michael Kiwanuka has had a strong appeal latched to him from the start. Despite that first album receiving a Mercury Prize nomination and he himself being named as BBC's Sound Of 2012, the frontman never felt like he truly belonged in people's praise, suffering strongly from imposter syndrome and feeling like he was soon to return to obscurity. Then his sophomore LP 'Love & Hate' arrived and we all realised that he was no flash in the pan, but an artist with so much more to say than we previously thought. Now he continues his bold and empathetic pursuit of impassioned songwriting with 'KIWANUKA', a self-titled reflection of his own mirrored persona.

The main difference that we heard on his first two records was how quickly he turned his attention to himself. While wonderful to listen to, 'Home Again' never had much in the way of longevity, whereas 'Love & Hate' was focused more on his own personal struggles as a black man in the UK, giving us a far more personal affair. This attention to writing about his own beliefs and musings is the bedrock behind 'KIWANUKA' and shows him as how he truly is. Described as an "anti-alter-ego", this new release is meant to be a mixture of the person he is or wants to be at any given time, as we see him bare his soul of a bright and uplifting collection of songs.

There is no denying that Michael Kiwanuka is one of the most consistently brilliant artists working today. His ability to match personal and powerful emotion with such diverse and interesting production has been his gift, and 'KIWANUKA' not only delivers more of that, but gives us a wonderfully self-reflective view of the man behind the music.

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