This is going to be one of the newest albums on this tour of my favorites (at least, as of when I started this list. Let’s see how long it goes on…). An album has to be around for a while to move from current obsession to long term “favorite”. This one is from 2016, six years ago at this point and I still go back to it again and again. That’s long enough, it’s faded from any popular zeitgeist. The artist has released newer music since this one.
This is Micheal Kiwanuka’s second album, I had never heard him before this one. All of his albums are great, but this one is beyond great. I was turned on to it with this album via the BBC World Service’s Arts Hour program one morning while driving to work. They played part of an interview and then a live version of “Black Man in a White World” as I recall. I was hooked immediately, it was amazing! First thing I did when I got to the office was lookup the album, Love & Hate [discogs.com] and listen to it. I listened to it all day, over and over again. I was obsessed with it for weeks and yeas later I am still listening to it.
Apple Music lists the album as R&B/Soul, while Discogs adds Rock, Funk and Acoustic to the mix. And it’s that mix that takes this album to a whole other level. It’s out of world. From the slow methodical opening of Cold Little Heart which takes it time to get going and sucks you into the album as it does so. To the gental weaping guitar of The Final Frame the album never settles down into one genre.
His follow up to Love & Hate, the 2019 KIWANUKA, might have won the Mercury Prize while Love & Hate only got a nomination but Love & Hate is my favorite. It’s perfect for a rainy day, laying in the dark and listening. The production and style is just the right mix of quiet and lyrics and crashing guitar and drums, a lush layered sound, sometimes soul, sometimes R&B and sometimes straight out rock.
Listen on Apple:
Or on Spotify: