Home AgainAlbum |
UK singer-songwriter revitalizes the early '70s.
"Retro" is a double-edged word. It can signify a too-conservative need to appeal to a certain hidebound demographic, or it can imply that an artist isn't interested in connecting to his own time and place. But then there's Michael Kiwanuka, who simply has little choice in the matter: the British singer-songwriter's gorgeous voice would make a Lady Gaga cover sound like a lost early '70s gem found in the world's best used record store. Shades of Terry Callier, prime-era Van Morrison, Al Green, Randy Newman and Bill Withers flit through Kiwanuka's vocal chords, and producer Paul Butler (frontman of UK indie-psych cult heroes The Bees) sets his golden voice in arrangements heavy on the acoustic guitars, bongos, Mellotron, brushed drums, electric piano, even a bit of pop-jazz flute. There are no sonic touchstones to indicate that this record was made after about 1975, and yet Home Again still sounds remarkably fresh. The intimate lyrics steer clear of Big Themes in favor of small-scale tales of love gone wrong (or, less often, right) and simple declarations of doubt and optimism. Home Again threads a difficult needle: a little heavier on the '70s soul tropes and Kiwanuka is just another Mayer Hawthorne-style revivalist, and a little more feel-my-sensitivity singer-songwriter earnestness and he's Ray LaMontagne or even (shudder) John Mayer. But much like Jonathan Wilson's spiritual cousin Gentle Spirit, Home Again sounds fantastic not just because reminds the listener of a bunch of old classic rock records, but because it brings that sound into the modern age.
|Tell Me A Tale|