Crap Year, Cool Tunes: The Top 10 Albums of 2016

2: Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

mkloveLondon-based singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka’s 2012 debut album, “Home Again,” was a nice enough collection of laid-back soul tunes, simmering with potential but modest in ambition. No one can accuse his follow-up of being modest. “Love & Hate” makes its grand intentions clear on the epic 10-minute opening cut, “Cold Little Heart.” Hot-shot producer Danger Mouse works with a lush palette here and on several other tracks, layering on the strings and gospel-choir backing vocals and bringing to mind “Hot Buttered Soul”-era Isaac Hayes. (On a couple of songs, such as the mournful “I’ll Never Love,” the versatile Mr. Mouse employs a stripped-down, folky approach reminiscent of ‘70s cult hero Terry Callier.) Kiwanuka seems to be in a far more serious mood this time around. He weighs in on the frustrations of being a “Black Man in a White World” and begs his demons to leave him be on the mesmerizing, slow-build title track.  It might be nice to hear a few more upbeat numbers on his next outing, both in tempo and tone– the mood on “Love & Hate” is unequivocally melancholy. But that’s a very minor quibble. With this glorious sophomore effort, Kiwanuka has gone from promising newcomer to one of our most important contemporary artists in a single stride.

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One thought on “Crap Year, Cool Tunes: The Top 10 Albums of 2016

  1. Pingback: Crap Year, Cool Tunes: The Top 10 Albums of 2016 | dugoutdiscs

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