Artist: Michael Kiwanuka
Title: “Home Again”
Michael Kiwanuka had one of 2012′s finest debut efforts with “Home Again,” a sweet, fluid collection of jazzy folk and vintage soul songs from a Londoner in his mid-20s.
Kiwanuka’s music is the spiritual descendant of an earlier time. He should be the contemporary of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Bill Withers and Smokey Robinson, not Frank Ocean and Trey Songz.
He evokes visions of Robinson’s “quiet storm” soul on numbers such as “I’ll Get Along,” letting flutes and a light, breezy sonic atmosphere accompany his tenor voice.
Elsewhere, there’s “Bones,” which has Cooke’s touch for getting jazz and R&B to lie down together. “I guess I would leave this world alone ’cause without you I’m just bones,” Kiwanuka swoons against a soft drum splash and a gentle bass.
Groundbreaking? Hardly. It’s said that if homage trespasses too far, an artist loses identity. While Kiwanuka sounds like he’s of another era entirely, he does it with such conviction, warmth and sincerity that it’s hard not to just enjoy “Home Again” on its own terms for the treat it is.
Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.