Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Ian Grimble and Richard Matthews of Communion Music at 2KHz, Crouch End, London
Damn if it isn't tough as hell to get by without a good woman beside you. It's the plight that British soul man Michael Kiwanuka can't get himself away from. It's one of those forever draining thoughts - that these good times and this good girl are only temporary, or that the good times that once were will never come back around. It's a preoccupation with cherishing or reviving the good feelings that come when one's madly involved with another.
Kiwanuka has that good old, knock your ass out heartache anchored to the bottom of his being. It's heavier than any one man could lift and even if it were possible to have it extracted, he'd likely swat at the doctor's hand and tell him to leave it where it is, that it's not really bothering him any. He's become a keeper of it and he's in it for the long haul, through the thicks and the thins. It's a living and breathing thing that is the embodiment of what exactly it means to be alive, to be a survivor out here, with the snakes and the screamers. He and his music are what it means to be one of the empathizers, or an empathist, as they should be called.
The love and the longing that he sings about are of the variety that move mountains and shut down streets. They are the kinds that lift cars and scale fire escapes, just to deliver a clutch of flowers or to make up for the unfortunate thing that happened and has been stewing. It's not quite obvious if the majority of love that Kiwanuka, who last year toured considerably as the opening act - both in the UK and in the US - for Adele, is requited or otherwise, but it sure has the feel for the kind that's been both. It's the combination of the pining for it, then having it and holding and later losing it that makes his songs thump so soundly. It's hopeless and then again, it's probably the only thing to hope for - that chance to go through it all one more time.