I’m loving the music of Michael Kiwanuka right now. He takes classic raw soul and country blues elements and transforms them with some clever modern arrangements. There is no one quite like him, if it wasn’t for the more modern stylish embellishments and arrangements I’d swear I was listening to an old legend, you can hear the essence of the likes of Otis Reading and Marvin Gaye, brilliant!
His new video for Tell Me a Tale is like being transported back in time. The film has a great late sixties / early seventies feel to it. This is great soul music with some very nice cool jazz arrangements for company…watch it below!
From a recent gig at La Cigale, Paris
Michael Kiwanuka releases his debut EP, ‘Tell Me A Tale’ on the 13th June 2011 through Communion Records. He will be supporting Adele at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire this Thursday, 21st April.
Bob Dylan – Tangled Up in Blue
John Martyn – May You Never
Bill Withers – Use Me
Otis Redding – I’ve Been Loving You
With Michael Kiwanuka, it’s all about the voice. A voice that he describes as “hitting straight through to the core” with direct, emotional songs about love, yearning, comfort and belonging. It’s a voice that built him a following via MySpace and small London gigs, and led Paul Butler from The Bees to invite him to the band’s Isle of Wight studio to lay down these introductory tracks. Which makes it all the more strange, really, that what Kiwanuka originally set out to be was a session guitarist who maybe wrote the odd song for other people.
Now 23, growing up in North London Michael struggled at times to see where he fitted in. An avid England and Spurs fan, he found it hard to imagine a day when a name like Kiwanuka could sit comfortably on the back of a football shirt here. Nonetheless, when his parents took him and his brother back to the Uganda to visit family, he and his brother were immediately recognised as English tourists. Like most of his schoolmates, he liked bands like Nirvana and Blur, but it was only when he discovered that Jimi Hendrix was black that he was able to imagine himself picking up a guitar.
In his teens, two other icons helped him find his voice. A friend gave him a Bob Dylan box set, and Michael was bowled over by the power of a well-crafted song, delivered with just urgent vocals and an acoustic guitar. Later, he was playing the free CD that came with a music magazine and heard an out-take of ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’ in which Otis Redding was talking to the studio engineer. It made the soul icon seem more human, more accessible, and though there were later to be other influences from Bill Withers and Terry Callier to John Martyn and Laura Marling, it was Dylan and Redding who laid the foundations for Michael’s own rootsy, folk-inflected modern soul.
Written and performed by Michael Kiwanuka, produced by Paul Butler and featuring an assortment of Isle of Wight musicians as well as of course Michael on acoustic guitar, Tell Me A Tale, I Need Your Company and Worry Walks Beside Me are timeless songs that could only have come from Britain in 2011. Real, raw and achingly beautiful, they are just a taste of what is to come.