Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
Interscope Records
-out now
3 / 5

The heartfelt Brit has been making quite a splash on the other side of the pond there; his debut full-length has garnered comparisons to soul icons including Bill Withers and vintage vinyl sound. Sonically, these comparisons are fairly accurate: take a warm voice and soft guitar, and maybe you get one of James Talyor’s contemporaries. Maybe. But as much as we like the opener, Taylor’s session-man Kiwanuka is not – if you get that particular grammar. The title track is a fairly run-of-the-mill “gotta be movin’ on” kinda thing, and if you peruse the other titles on this album, you’ll pretty much come up with the rest of the songs on your own. The thing is, Kiwanuka really does have a good voice, but the material doesn’t come up to challenge that; moreover, it doesn’t let Kiwanuka bare his teeth, it doesn’t show anything other than a sweet, sentimental singer crooning a few out before you push your shopping cart around again. That is to say, despite his good voice (and the fantastic production values – check out the muted trumpets, flutes, half an orchestra), Home Again hits the “again” note more than the “home” one: this debut is a diminishing return to the age of classic singer-songwriters, baring heart but not wisdom. It’s nice for a spin or two, but we’re going to hold out until Kiwanuka really startles us with something new. Take a pass for now.

Listen to a few on his website.

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