Review Summary: Soul & Spirit
Given the ridiculous amounts of genre tags that exist in the musical spectrum the most important things are oft overlooked namely you either have it or you don’t and none more so than in the world of soul.
Londoner Michael Kiwanuka emerged on the scene as a BBC sound of 2012 and despite a well received debut it is with this second effort Love and Hate that Kiwanuka breathes new life into the soul scene by singing from the bones and establishing himself as a contender.
Opening with the ten minute Cold Little Heart comparisons can be made to Pink Floyds Shine On You Crazy Diamond it’s all sparse guitar, choral vocals and ethereal beauty before Kiwanuka enters the fray with a voice that makes the whole thing breathe and become a truly stunning opening track.
With producer Danger Mouse on board and striking a balance between stirring strings and sparsity, tracks like Falling are left to feel truly expansive by Kiwanukas superlative vocals.
The collaboration brings with it further songs that are wrapped around piano, electric guitar bursts and strings which complement Kiwanukas style and drive the album into territory that skims rock and pop .
Themes of struggle, finding your place and seeking love and happiness are all explored as they have been by countless others but here we have a genuine, raw and talented individual laying it all down, tying it together and sounding fresh. Commendable enough on its own terms but here we have a crafted, expansive inspiring listen that places itself among the very best of the last few years and confirm that some people really do have it.