by Reyan Ali
If you ever need a record cover to justify that cliché about a picture being worth a thousand words, Michael Kiwanuka's Home Again does the trick. His 2012 debut full-length sports a stark closeup of its creator's face draped in half-shadow and wearing a pensive expression. You can just barely track all his details on one side, but it hardly matters -- it's the photo's vintage feel that's doing most of the communicating.
Also clustered within the simple design are the artist's name and the album title, in minimalist type; the record's U.K. labels (Polydor and Communion; in the U.S., Interscope handles Kiwanuka); and a box that reads "Stereo 360 Sound" -- that last touch a quirky promotional device that adorns old Columbia releases such as Johnny Cash's Happiness Is You (1966) and Barbra Streisand's Simply Streisand (1967). Depending on where you're seeing it, Home Again's image may or may not be sepia-toned. Either way, the whole product instantly evokes decades-old photography and vintage record cover design.
None of this is unintentional.
Michael Kiwanuka is scheduled to perform Wednesday, June 5, at Desert Sky Pavilion.