Meet London's New King Of Soul

Michael Kiwanuka sounds like Bill Withers jamming with Al Green on Nantucket Island, get on him before the chattering classes claim him as one of their own...
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Michael Kiwanuka sounds like Bill Withers jamming with Al Green on Nantucket Island, get on him before the chattering classes claim him as one of their own...

He sounds like the latest midfielder on Manchester City’s radar?

No, he’s Spurs

Oh, Happy Harry’s flashing the cash then?

No he’s a 23-year-old North London lad that happens to be a Spurs fan.

So what’s all the fuss about?

He’s a brilliant musician with the voice of a 1960s US soul man.

Ah, another one he’s been listening to his parents’ record collection?

Not really – I don’t think his Ugandan parents listened to much Nirvana and Radiohead, the sounds that Kiwanuka grew up listening to!

Ah, but he eventually saw the error of his ways then?

I suppose so, but not before falling in love with Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell’s song-writing.

Alright so he’s just another retro-soul man with an acoustic guitar?

No – one listen to the title-track of his debut EP, Tell Me A Tale- Isle of Wight Sessions, and you’ll understand.

It sounds like Al Green jamming with Bill Withers and Terry Callier on Nantucket Island when half way through they decide to visit a Northern Soul all-nighter one summer’s night in 1973. There are strings, a flute, the spirit of Marvin Gaye and all sorts in there.

Right I get it – a bit like Dusty in Memphis or Cat Power teaming up with the Memphis Rhythm Band?

Well not really – as it says on the tin more like Paul Butler of The Bees inviting him to the Isle of Wight, nipping in a recording studio with an assortment of backing musicians and just letting go…

So has he come out of nowhere?

Of course not he’s paid his dues. He started in rock bands before finding work as a session guitarist playing R&B, jazz and funk for Tinie Tempah's producer Labrinth. Meanwhile he spent his evenings building up a sing his own folky-soul songs. Recently he’s been all over Europe touring with Adele.

Okay it all sounds good where so when can I hear this guy?

The Tell Me A Tale- Isle of Wight Sessions EP is released on 13 June on Communion Records and available from all the usual suspects but before that – do yourself a favour and check out the brilliant video (or should that be Super-8 film) to the title track.


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