I didn't know about the hype of this guy; I was simply watching Rage one morning (Australian music program), and the usual dribble that assualts me at that time of morning was instantly transformed by this guy singing 'home again.'
I didn't get it. Here was a young man in 2012, singing like he belonged in the 'oldies' section of my CD collection. I thought, 'i'll keep an ear out for him', and proceeded to answer the questions being asked of me by my assignment...
... but I couldn't get it out of my head. I couldn't remember any of the words, and I could only remember but half his name; Google did the rest. Still not having heard anything from him apart from the brief snippet caught by my half inclined ear during that sleepy Saturday morning in Darwin, I found out that his album was being released soon.
Long story short, I acquired the damn thing.
I am a musician. I am a musicologist (among other things). I am a tough man to please when it comes to 'new' talent. But after one listening, this album went straight onto the ipod, the iphone, the USB stick in the car, and the 'spare' mp3 player... IMMEDIATELY.
It's not the most amazing thing you'll ever hear. It's not going to rock the music world to its foundations; especially not the industry as it is today. For instance, he doesn't promise to get undressed, drunk, arrested; surprisingly, he doesn't offer to undress anyone else. He doesn't pee on anyone, and he doesn't defame the male or female gender claiming that all men or women are a$$holes. He doesn't even get all ragamuffin on anyone's behind - it is a really under the radar thing he's done here. He's almost come out saying, 'i don't care if this doesn't make me a millionaire - here it is anyway!' But what an understanding this man has of music!!! This album is really deeply beautiful; the ingredients are all right! He gets it, and I am a fan.
If you can get a hold of it, be sure to grab the 'deluxe' version, as it has 15 songs on it as opposed to the standard 10 on the normal release. Some of those extra 5 songs are different versions of the album songs, but 3 of them are new and strong enough to be on the album proper. 'Ode to you' is a standout of the entire release, although it's not on the normal release. This is why I exhort you to keep searching for the deluxe version - it is worth it.
Anyone looking for something old in something new, this is it. Michael Kiwanuka is the reincarnate Curtis Mayfield; he is the new Bill Withers. And whilst these giants of the genre spring to mind when one listens to Michael, there is something undeniably new about this man that defies comparison, and so should their be. Otherwise, why would anyone buy this instead of an original Withers or Mayfield classic? No, this album is not a reaching back to revive a forgotten vibe - it's a recreation of that vibe relevant for today. Unfortunately, I don't think it will be relevant for today's 'people'. Don't let it pass you by.