The gritty return of Michael Kiwanuka is worth the wait [Review]

By Melanie Leung
By Melanie Leung |

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It took British soul singer Michael Kiwanuka four years to come out with Love & Hate, the follow up album to his debut, Home Again, but this powerfully honest album is well worth the wait.

He sets the scene – raw, frank, gritty – with 10-minute opener Cold Little Heart, which progresses from a meditative orchestral overture to a heart-wrenching, Pink Floyd-esque guitar solo. His vulnerable lyrics are captivating, especially in the stripped-back I’ll Never Love, a bleak, reverb-heavy four-verser.

The theme of loneliness is also overwhelming in Black Man in a White World , a clappy, Motown-infused track, while things lighten up with the upbeat One More Night, which hints that Kiwanuka is still hopeful for a way out.

Elsewhere, the music speaks more loudly than the words. The seven-minute title track is a sonic treat, fusing a soaring electric guitar solo with classical violins, piano and a recurring vocal riff as Kiwanuka sings about his demons.

This is not your typical soul music – it’s grittier, more experimental and utterly intriguing.