Released: Oct. 25
Label: Interscope Records
While Michael Kiwanuka was struggling with difficulties as he recorded his excellent second album, 2016's "Love & Hate," his new effort is an extremely successful example of being able to truly express yourself while possessing the talent in and around you for it to be more than a mere vanity exercise.
"Kiwanuka" expands and deepens the sonic palette of its predecessor, reuniting the Londoner born into a family of Ugandan refugees with producers and creative collaborators Danger Mouse and Inflo.
The songs usually flow into each other, simultaneously linked and separated by electronics, spoken-word fragments, vocal quilts and other assorted buffers, providing a sense of unity that also serves as a recommendation for listening to each song as part of a whole.
The opening trio of "You Ain't the Problem," ''Rolling" and "I've Been Dazed" covers most of the bases — an uplifting, joyous start; a soulful guitar riff that illustrates the lyrics' urgency and the need to keep moving; and a smoldering track that adds instruments and voices and then breaks back down as the singer both offers and seeks support and guidance.
Kiwanuka's voice is altered to sound worn and weary at the acoustic start to "Hero," but regains its youth and vigor as the track gains momentum, including an electrifying guitar solo, to focus on violent fates, societal failures and personal challenges.
Key cuts: "Hard to Say Goodbye," "Light"