Entertainment, Film and Music

MOBO Recommended: Michael Kiwanuka

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Since his emergence in 2010 north London singer songwriter Michael Kiwanuka has been slowly but steadily gathering momentum. With his effortless blend of rootsy acoustic folk and a voice straight out of the classic soul archives Kiwanuka is breathing fresh life into the British singer-songwriter circuit. Despite largely slipping under the mainstream radar (for now) Kiwanuka has been garnering the attentions of soul and folk fans across the county and also managed to bag a support slot on Adele’s recent tour.


His debut release came in June of this year, the warmly received ‘Tell Me a Tale’ E.P, with the eponymous lead track displaying a decidedly vintage feel. A combination of timeless soulful vocals coupled with a jazz led plethora of flute, strings, and brass sections harked back to the 1960s and 70s hay day of soul music greatness. The release showcased his ability to cross between the more laid back core of his work to a bigger sound whilst earning him comparisons to the likes of Bill Wither’s and Al Green.

Recalling the first time I came across Kiwanuka on Youtube at the recommendation of a friend and fellow soul enthusiast, it was hard to believe that this young musician is the product of 24 years of living in north London. The clip in question was a live performance of a song called ‘I’ll Get Along’ (below this article), a mellow, melancholic slice of acoustic soul in the Otis Reading mould. The deep melodic tones belie his relative lack of years and lay bear the influence of past soul masters whilst demonstrating his own musical and vocal maturity.

Make no mistake, with such a rich history within the genre of many of popular music’s greatest ever vocalists, Kiwanuka is by no-means re-inventing the soul wheel. But it is the honest, unpretentious and raw style that strikes such and deep chord with the listener, making him such a shining contender amongst the dirge of neo-soul’s sanitised and overproduced canon. For a soul enthusiast such as myself it is immensely reassuring to know that there is finally a genuine alternative to Lemar- Kiwanuka is straight to the matter, unspoilt soul music at it’s best. Most definitely keep your eyes peeled and your ear to the ground for this guy as with the right direction he could well prove to be massive.

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