Retro-soul music's been in fashion for the last decade on both sides of the Atlantic. But while there is no shortage of Stax-style soul-shouters and postmodern Motown acolytes out and about, there has been a dearth of acoustic soul revivalists bringing back the earthy 1970s vibes of such natural-born soul men as Bill Withers, Terry Callier, and Van Morrison.
That's where Michael Kiwanuka comes in. The 24-year-old jazz-schooled singer and guitarist of Ugandan parentage hails from the Muswell Hill section of North London, where the Davies brothers of the Kinks grew up.
Kiwanuka possesses a rich, grainy voice that communicates extraordinary calm. He has grabbed the attention of everyone from Adele - he opened for her in the United Kingdom last year - to the BBC, which ranked him as its most likely star-to-be in its Sound of 2012 tastemakers poll; to the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who on a recent tour stop in London, produced Kiwanuka's song "Lasan," included on the American version of the singer's debut LP, Home Again. (The album is available digitally and comes out as a physical release July 31.)