New Music: Michael Kiwanuka

Whilst 2011 hasn’t been a vintage year for new British music, one man who has bucked that trend, and is continuing to do so with the I’m Getting Ready EP – out this week, is Michael Kiwanuka.

Part folk troubadour, part retro soul man, his first release, Tell Me A Tale EP, was compared to musical greats across the soul spectrum from Bill Withers and Otis Redding to the Temptations and Marvin Gaye, however it is the autumnal melodies of ‘The New Folk Sounds of Terry Callier’ that this new release most evokes.

The folk influences are equally clear on the three tracks that appear on his myspace page and were evident in the acoustic versions of several of his songs posted on YouTube, but it is the soul reference points that separate him from the already over saturated singer/songwriter genre.

Folk singer in Folk Clothing Rainmac

The sepia photos that accompany his releases and the retro sound imply that he is taking a path well trodden, however, having seen Michael perform at the Old Queen’s Head in Islington over the summer, it is clear that the boy is the real deal, rather than a mere revivalist. If that performance and these EPs are anything to go by then things look very promising for the debut album due for release at the end of February.

It is his vocals tinged with melancholy that have inspired the comparisons to the likes of Bill Withers, however his song writing skills, ear for a melody and vaguely mournful acoustic guitar playing shouldn’t be over looked either – one to keep more than an eye on.

By Callum West


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