Right off the back of being awarded the revered BBC Sound Of 2012 accolade, hotly-tipped newcomer Michael Kiwanuka releases his debut album today. Taking the name of lead track ‘Home Again’, the album meanders between bright optimism and the burden of worry in the same vein as Kiwanuka’s soul and folk predecessors. He takes us through the album’s listed contents track-by-track.
1. Tell Me A Tale
This first track was written in the studio, at Paul Butler’s (Producer) house actually. I was upstairs with a guitar and just wrote it there and then. We’d been recording a session with some tracks that weren’t really gelling, so I had to get away to try and focus. I wanted to do something a bit more up-tempo and then came downstairs with that song and it was exactly what we had been aiming for. It was all finished up really quickly and gave us a way into working on the rest of the record. It was when we really first found our groove, so I thought it would fit well as an opening track.
This one is a soft lullaby, a sort of love song I guess. At the time of penning it, I had been listening to a lot of lo-fi recorded soul music. Al Green in particular, I’ve always been interested by the way he sang. So ‘Rest’ was definitely inspired by those quiet, soothing vocals but it also has a groove to it too.
3. I’ll Get Along
People used to text or phone me about something and I’d always get distracted or forget and end up getting back to them about two weeks too late. But despite this, it’d always be playing on my mind to get back to them. Sometimes you know what you have to do and while you don’t necessarily get there straight away, even if it takes some time you will in the end. And that idea sort of expanded broader to represent life as a whole.
4. Home Again
This was the perfect choice for our lead single as it ties a lot of the album tracks together in terms of their theme. Some of these songs took a really long while to write and record but ‘Home Again’ was surprisingly swift. I probably wrote it all in the space of 20 minutes in my own bedroom. The lyrics aren’t actually about a house, “home” as in a physical place, but instead the feeling of what home is. When you’re home, you can finally relax and be yourself. I’m often restless in my mind and I wanted to tackle these things in song form.
5. I’m Getting Ready
No, this isn’t about getting dressed in the morning. I have a real problem of sticking things out. With anything, if you do it for so long then it will inevitably start getting difficult, and it was getting frustrating constantly giving up on things, whether it be university or playing guitar for people. So ‘I’m Getting Ready’ is about keeping on going, building on things and not dropping everything instantaneously.
This one actually took a while to do, we probably had about seven different versions of it before the final track that appears on the album. While I had been in studios before, it was never for long, extended periods of time - only for two-song sessions recorded in one take. So I wasn’t anything of an expert when it came to the technical side of things. But I’m really interested by the contrast of really sad blues songs that have this bouncy and happy rhythm to them. So this song was my take on that aesthetic.
7. Always Waiting
Perhaps because this is my first album, some of these tracks are a lot older while some were written more recently. ‘Always Waiting’ is probably the newest. I’ve scrapped quite a lot of tracks and I’d never put anything I wasn’t completely happy with on the album, whether it was a fresh one or a track from way back. The album is full of songs that I think fit well together and I feel like this is definitely one of those.
8. I Won’t Lie
I may sound like a broken record by now but this one’s about the same sort of feelings as some of the other tracks touch upon - when you’re at a loose end and at a loss. It’s about being honest that you need help, that you won’t lie to yourself or others about being in a bad place.
9. Any Day Will Do Fine
‘Any Day Will Do Fine’ is probably one of the only tracks on this album that isn’t mostly autobiographical. I wanted to write more of a story, and while it’s still personal and all, it’s also more imaginative. I wanted to test the ways that I write and try something new.
10. Worry Walks Beside Me
It’s probably quite obvious by now that I worry quite a bit. Sometimes it feels like it never leaves me and that it’s something that’s constantly by my side whether I like it or not. ‘Worry Walks Beside Me’ fits well as a closer simply because it would be hard to follow it with anything else really.
Michael Kiwanuka’s debut album ‘Home Again’ will be released on 12th March via Polydor.
Taken from the March 2012 issue of DIY, available now. For more details click here.