few records make such an instant impression as 'home again', the debut album by michael kiwanuka. immersing the listener in a sound that is both modern and at the same time as familiar as the classics, it manages to strike the balance between being contemporary and somehow utterly timeless. for kiwanuka, key musical touchstones include marvin gaye, otis redding, bob dylan, paul simon, shuggie otis, roberta flack's first take, bill withers' live at carnegie hall and d'angelo's modern soul landmark voodoo. citing the latter album in particular as exhibit a in refuting suggestions that his listening tastes are rooted exclusively in the 1970s, kiwanuka calmly shrugs off any 'retro' accusations that might be levelled at his music. 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.
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