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Year’s Best: Okayplayer’s Top 12 LPs Of 2012

Year’s Best: Okayplayer’s Top 12 LPs Of 2012

Okayplayer top 12 albums of 2012

Michael Kiwanuka - Home Again album cover

8. Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again
Michael Kiwanuka’s debut album Home Again is a simple gift; a bundle of beautiful, well-crafted songs delivered in the most uncomplicated manner possible, something which hardly require lengthy explanations or arguments to sell it. Which is not to say that it is lacking in depth or complexity. On the contrary, as the title suggests, the album’s lyrics revolve around the universal need for belonging and connection–and the simultaneous impossibility of holding on to them for long; a bittersweet theme that may yet prove too complex for pop radio. But like the two-word title itself, the themes are approached with a plainspoken honesty that it is physically difficult to dislike. This simplicity is reflected in the album’s focus on Kiwanuka’s voice and guitar, which–outside the afrobeat horns of “Tell Me A Tale”–are augmented only with drums and fairly traditional arrangements of flute and piano that would be familiar to any fan of 60s folk-pop. This rather old-fashioned sound has drawn many comparisons between Kiwanuka and Bill Withers. These are well-founded (Kiwanuka has in fact worked with Withers’ ex-drummer James Gadson) but Otis Redding, Norah Jones, Tracy Chapman or even Jimmy Buffett would all make equally valid points of reference. More importantly, the throwback sound on Home Again feels less self-consciously retro than just timeless. An over-used distinction, perhaps, but one which best describes the happy confusion felt when you do stumble across a song like “Bones” or “I’ll Get Along” (below) on the radio dial and wonder just what you’ve discovered. As the comparisons above might indicate, the songs on Home Again are destined to find a place prepared for them in the coffee shops of the world, nestled right next to the house blend. But here’s hoping others embrace it as well. Because by all indications Kiwanuka is a talent too big for such a small shelf.

>>>Purchase Home Again on iTunes

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