Michael Kiwanuka returns after a four year recording absence to deliver Love & Hate. The follow up to the Londoner's successful debut Home Again, is a sure sign that Kiwanuka is reaching for higher ground and the pride for his own work hasn't diminished since 2012.
Record opener 'Cold Little Heart' is a slow and powerful introduction that is constantly begging the question, where is this track going next? While hanging on for Kiwanuka's uniquely gritty and soulful voice, tasteful strings build up the anticipation for what is a cleverly strategic way to introduce this follow up album.
Combining strong lyrical content with a laid back approach, Kiwanuka has earned a sound that would fit contently among some of Soul's biggest players. First single 'Black Man in a White World' explores a racial prejudice that has become all too familiar within the so called civilised society that we find ourselves in yet remains an upbeat addition to this record.
The instrumentation throughout is never far from being easily mistaken for a recording session in the 60s. Strong group female backing vocals only add to this preconceived idea that, this is what it takes to imitate the likes of Ray Charles or Otis Redding, but in Kiwanuka's case, it just works.
It's fair to say that the 29 year old has aged with grace and delicacy since his debut. Love & Hate tends to rely on the output as a whole whereas Home Again was heavily reliant on Kiwanuka's solo delivery. This time round, distorted guitar solos flirt lustfully with orchestral prowess and Motown reminiscence is never far from ear shot.
'One More Night' is Kiwanuka at his best. Bold, understated and seeking the perfect blend of old and modern influenced brilliance. While the musician has become well recognised for such qualities through both sensual and driving songs, Love & Hate displays this artist in the best possible light. Full of charisma with a wealth of musical knowledge that any modern day imitation would be lucky to obtain, Michael Kiwanuka is our own musical time machine. Love & Hate is available via Amazon & iTunes.