Michael Kiwanuka – Unknown Sundays 18-2016

The greatest testament to a musical feeling—must be from the very soul, right? After all, isn’t it our life’s work to soul search? We all try to do—yet feel so far from it at times? Don’t we feel right now that there are a lot of lost souls on this earth—in one way or another (please remember the date of this archive is July 10, 2016)? Whether it is those that have lost their soul to the pursuit of nothing but money or power, or those that have lost their soul to simple hatred or ignorance… there is evidence in the world around us, in our America, and around your very corner. It could be you, someone you love, colleague, or friend. “All that you have—is your soul,” is the popular statement we hear so much in musical lyrics and in the themes of stories (Tracy Chapman’s song as one example in title). What you do with your soul is the question, or better yet—as one soul man from London has mastered—how to interpret the soul.
Michael Kiwanuka has a brilliant and budding ability to capture an almost iconic-like sound, deliver soulful and soul-felt lyrics, and all this under a fusion of genre-dipping passionate musicianship under an acoustic armed guitar—and a harmonizing throwback feel to bring it all home. What may have started out as studio musicianship for this London singer-songwriter, has gone far beyond what he has learned, interpreted, explored, and honed. He has wound soul music around both his guitar playing fingers and his mind’s gifted tongue. This soulful understanding exceeds a genre that has been sinking into monotony for more years than most will admit. This is no calculated homage. This is careful, interesting, and meaning filled delivery within a variety of simple and complex arrangements, respectfully and artistically pushing every moment under a rich and raw vocal.
His new album Love and Hate (coming out this Friday [again this article from July 2016]) is going to be a classic in the modern era! The title track is quite possibly the most inspiring and passionate performance of music and lyrics that has graced soul music in a decade! It has a timing that is pointed directly at us all, as great singer songwriting should. There was no question when listening to Home Again,’ back from 2012, that this gentleman has a musical embodiment that was going to shake and move the foundation of soul and singer-songwriter music, while not offending—but up-lifting the artists of the past like Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, and Terry Callier. The progression of his work is pride and profession. Love and Hate has this luxurious push and pull with the interpreted souls of past and present blues, reggae, and jazz structures with an unprecedented parade of themes to engage all.
Explore this honest and ambitious man’s recordings. You will be hooked. There are two clips attached to this article. The one at the top is the lead single—because it’s just that emotionally honest in lyrics, in blues guitar (wait for it five minutes in, when it reiterates in its own way), and in the layers of harmony. The other is from the unbelievable cover of Waitin’ Round To Die’ by the late Townes Van Zandt, which he performed on Austin City Limits. Sorry I don’t have the video footage, but I wanted the rawness to hit you—because he has captured something so strong in every moment.
It’s unknown where the soul comes from and where it goes—but if you want to hear it, if you want to feel it, and–allow it–, I am 100% positive Michael Kiwanuka can give your soul a therapeutic intervention that will bring you back—from….well…that’s between you and the music.
SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE:
Michael Kiwanuka Albums in my collection:  Kiwanuka (2019) Love and Hate (2016)  Home Again (2012)
This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on July 10, 2016, and there’s no question that Michael Kiwanuka continues, as the 2019 album was nominated for Best Rock Album at the Grammy awards, as well as winning the Mercury Prize. He worked with Danger Mouse on the 2019 album, but he also loves to be unique in his collaborations, like that with UNKLE on the Roma Soundtrack. I like the fact that he’s gained confidence, using his last name as a title, so it’s apparent to me that this soulful modern artist has much more on the album horizon, especially post pandemic. His website. and Facebook page seem to have been stalled since possibly November 2022, but there’s plenty of live past performances to scroll there and on his YouTube to introduce or reacquaint yourself with his style and delivery. – Mark Kuligowski  [August 20th 2023]
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