Like almost all groundbreaking artists, Michael Kiwanuka makes politics personal and the personal political. In his songs, as in the world at large, it all connects. If you take away one thing, the other thing turns insignificant.

 

At the same time, he seems more and more at ease with being just himself. Even if this means he has struggled with questions concerning identity and self-image. With every new record he lets loose of his musical influences and becomes someone who adds to the tradition as well as the present.

 

Michael Kiwanuka’s full-length debut Home Again (2012), which went gold in United Kingdom but also France, Norway and the Netherlands, echoed Van Morrison, Bill Withers, Terry Callier and the 70s sound of analogue. It resulted in a tour with his pal Adele and a win in BBC:s Sound of 2012 poll. The sophomore effort Love & Hate (2016) was something completely different. With assistance from producer Danger Mouse, the London born singer raised the stakes and got the best possible outcome in its socially conscious lyrics, more progressive music, a general conviction that instinctively grabbed the listener – and an even bigger audience.

 

On this year’s Kiwanuka, he takes it a step further. Here he’s all his own, liberated and spellbinding in a low-key kind of way from start to finish. His show at Göta Lejon in Stockholm last week was an instant classic.

 

Michael Kiwanuka will play at Way Out West on Friday August 14.

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