Local Wire

Michael Kiwanuka @ Desert Sky Pavilion

If you ever need a record cover to justify that adage about a picture being worth a thousand words, Michael Kiwanuka's Home Again will do the trick. Kiwanuka's 2012 full-length debut sports a stark close-up of its mastermind's face draped in half-shadow and wearing a pensive expression. You can just barely track all his details on one side, but, really, it's the photo's vintage feel that is communicating its greatest value. "I used to just love the covers for jazz albums like Miles Davis records and Herbie [Hancock] records . . . When people asked, 'What kind of artwork would you like?' for EPs and albums, I'd just send them those kind of records." Kiwanuka has been repeatedly reminded of how deep his similarities and connections to those older artists go, and as an up-and-comer, he's embraced it so far. But he's emphatic that he expects — and wants — the conversation to shift once he's established himself. "I don't want to just echo stuff that's been before," he says. "I want people to go, 'Oh, that sounds like Michael Kiwanuka.' I want people to follow me and my career around because they like me and my music, not just because it sounds like something that reminds them of other music."

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Reyan Ali
Contact: Reyan Ali