Back in 2016, we put Michael Kiwanuka’s second album, Love & Hate in our top five albums of the year. As is typical with our listening, we caught onto an artist just as a lot of other people did as well. Soon, Kiwanuka’s track “Cold Little Heart” was used as the theme for HBO’s Big Little Lies and his star continued to grow. Released In November of 2019, the Kiwanuka album placed very high on many year-end charts.
This is the second Kiwanuka album produced by Danger Mouse with Inflo. First single and track, “You Ain’t The Problem” sets the tone with its cool, retro 70s soul sound. “Living In Denial” starts with a fuzzy guitar and horn sound while “Rolling” does a similar trick with an added funky chorus and catchy drum sound. “Final Days” is another killer percussion track that sees Kiwanuka use his falsetto to great affect in the chorus.
With minimal backing, Kiwanuka sings “When it gets hard, I will roll those sleeves” on “Solid Ground” before the spiritual strings of “Light” appears. If we had been able to listen to this album in December, odds are it would have been in our top 5 for 2019. It’s a beautiful and often powerful record that easily hangs tough with many of the classic soul albums of the 70s. Timeless stuff.