Michael Kiwanuka - Kiwanuka
Critic Score
Based on 30 reviews
2019 Ratings: #14 / 770
Year End Rank: #17
User Score
Based on 821 ratings
2019 Ratings: #19
Liked by 36 people
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The Telegraph
Ultimately, this is an album in which a troubled spirit seeks the relief of music to mesmerising and charged effect. And that is timeless.
The Line of Best Fit

This is an exceptionally compelling, absorbing, rich, and genuinely human piece of work.


As well as being his most reflective album, it’s also Kiwanuka’s most hopeful.

The Guardian

The soulful singer’s third LP is timeless and contemporary at the same time, with shades of everything from What’s Going On to Screamadelica.

This is both urgent and immediate for the moment, but timelessly classic at the same time—it is triumphant.
Q Magazine

Kiwanuka rewards your commitment from the first second to the last.

Evening Standard
It’s collectively more raw and raucous than its predecessor, just as impressive, and very special indeed.

Kiwanuka is therapeutic for all parties involved. It's honest, psychedelic, enlightening and recalls blackness defined by acoustic folk and the organic soul of past artists like Gil Scott-Heron, Bobby Womack and Otis Redding.


Blending a range of influences, sounds and themes to ensure a creative and compelling end result, this is one of the very finest recent R&B records, blending the personal, political, and pure to dazzling effect.


Kiwanuka is loaded with memorable songs, but the best way to experience them is by listening to the album from start to finish.

God Is in the TV

You will be inspired by his respectful, authentic and memorable nod to his old soul idols (from Gil Scott-Heron to Bobby Womack) but most importantly you are likely to be inspired to follow his new found courage on self-belief.


KIWANUKA doesn’t waste a single one of its 51 minutes, and seems destined to receive the same sort of acclaim as its predecessor.


Michael Kiwanuka has undoubtedly created a timeless album, one made with impressive confidence.


KIWANUKA is a breathtaking retro-futuristic hybrid of funk, soul, rock and folk that somehow exists in all of the past 50 years at once. It’s a tumultuous record, at once confessional and restive, and shot through with a quiet anguish.

The Young Folks

The album even manages to feel shorter than it is, as Kiwanuka efficiently communicates a complex emotional arc with ease and assurance, reflecting the statement of fact and headlong gaze present on Kiwanuka’s cover.


Packed with vibrating soul and lush textures, it’s a recipe everyone will be looking to copy but no-one will be able to master like the man himself.

American Songwriter

This isn’t as immediately powerful or riveting as Love & Hate. But the multifaceted material, along with the pioneering, organic and often offbeat production, grows on you.

The Independent

The record is an introspective mix of psychey soul, blues, rock and funk, which skips and strolls and swaggers through its 13 tracks – but it is not simply an exercise in nostalgia.


As fine as Love & Hate was -- worthy of all its accolades -- Kiwanuka stands head and shoulders above it as a complex, communicative, poetic, and sometimes even profound collection that wears its heart on its sleeve and its sophistication in its grooves.


Kiwanuka could very well be one of the best albums of 2019. But Kiwanuka is also a beautiful, deep place that feels like it will be worth visiting, not just in the last month of this year, but throughout a listener's lifetime.

Spill Magazine

At times, it doesn’t all come together quite as well as we would hope, but Kiwanuka continues to push the boundaries of the retro-soul sound and the strong moments on Kiwanuka hit hard.

Kiwanuka doesn't just plumb emotional depths, it renders these journeys into the darkness as beautiful pop.
The Arts Desk

Featuring harps and children’s choirs, Kiwanuka could have gone off the rails, but it has the songs and the focused intent to convince.

The Irish Times
It’s fitting that this collection is eponymously titled; with these songs Kiwanuka self-assuredly shrugs off the myriad comparisons, embraces his style and completely owns it.

The London singer-songwriter's Danger Mouse and Inflo-produced latest feels like an easy listen at first, but eventually reveals its mournful and even despairing heart.

Under The Radar

Evidently, the singer/songwriter's abilities have matured at an incredible pace since his first and second efforts.

Spectrum Culture

What it lacks in immediacy, Kiwanuka more than makes up for in sheer declarative artistry.

Rolling Stone

His third offering is his most fully-formed work, a meditative, expansive collection of synth-psych, blues-rock, stately folk that amounts to an early-career opus for the 32 year-old singer-songwriter.

The Needle Drop

Head-scratching interludes notwithstanding, Michael Kiwanuka's latest album is his boldest yet.

The Observer

Kiwanuka is equal to the challenge, combining Kiwanuka’s Stateside-facing retro soul with broader, occasionally more Afrocentric influences.

"Final days on the planet
Here we are, on the ground
Every day, automatic
Here we are, goin’ ’round and ’round and ‘round"

It is perhaps the most awaited album of the end of the year, the record of the Englishman Michael Kiwanuka, often compared to Marvin Gaye or Curtis Mayfield, who perfectly combines velvet voice, modern soul and demanding message. A real star in the making, with a disarming modesty.

Michael Kiwanuka, 30 years old, has already been heard ... read more
"Kiwanuka" is a soulful little soul gem that souls the soul until your soul souls and you can't sell your soul. The production from Danger Mouse (whenever I see him credited I get hella horny) is beautiful and the instrumental pallet is simply immaculate. Meanwhile, Kiwanuka's vocals tenderly penetrate the ears and the lyrics, while slightly cliche, provide plenty of emotional depth.

Why is this review so aroused? Help me.

Fav Tracks: Piano Joint (This Kind Of Love), Solid Ground, ... read more
Pointless introduction: Michael Kiwanuka is one of my favourite artists, I stayed up for the midnight release. The title of the album is a jab at critics who think he should change his stage name to be easier to remember/pronounce.

Highlights include:
*Seamless transmission between 'Rolling' and 'I've Been Dazed'. IBD is a great song as well.
*Intro to 'Piano Joint'. I'm really into this sort of sound at the moment.
*Synthy bit in 'Another Human Being'
*How cool I feel listening to ... read more
All the vintage soul trappings...but I’m sorry the song writing is less distinct this time.

EDIT: ok, the style is still stronger than the tunes but this has grown on me a fair amount, I hold my hands up, definitely deserves a rating/placing. Apologies dear Michael.
Kiwanuka bring us another fine album and i’m not surprised with this level of quality because his old stuff is gold too. the lyrics are all about black excellence, vulnerability and the sonority is like... future psychedelic soul mixed with singer/songwriter?? the production here is clearly a standout and fit Kiwanuka's vocals really well. even if it’s my least favorite album he released, this is a solid soul record
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Added on: August 14, 2019