British singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka’s debut album, Home Again, has just gotten its official U.S. release, but the record arrives on a serious wave of advance notice. Kiwanuka, a London-based 25-year-old of Ugandan descent, has already won the BBC’s Sound of 2012 prize, hit the top five of the U.K.’s pop charts and toured with Grammy winner Adele.
Much of Home Again’s sound — which, according to Kiwanuka, mixes “the craft of folk with the freedom and rhythm and energy of soul and jazz” — is a reflection of his own record collection. He spoke to AW about the artists who influenced him most while making the record.
“Roberta Flack’s first album [First Take] was an influence. It is that idea of doing soulful folk songs with a jazz thing attached to it. This really opened my eyes and ears.”
“[Legendary ’60s producer] David Axelrod’s sound had a lot to do with this record. The instrumentation that’s more exotic, the drums and grooves that he got on his tracks, helped guide a lot of this.”
“Albums like Bill Withers’ Live at Carnegie Hall, and everything from Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding and Neil Young. Their music is very often spare and simple but quite affecting. If I’ve been able to capture something like that, then I’d be quite happy.”
“Girls in the City”
Correct Behavior (Kanine, $10)
“I went by your house, saw the light on again
And I knew that you weren’t there or anywhere.”