Michael Kiwanuka is the rare kind of artist that needs no introduction. No backstory (session guitarist steps into the limelight), eye-catching list of influences (Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, Bill Withers, Hendrix), or clichés (“timeless”) can prepare you for the moment when his incredibly soulful vocals first knock you over at the 14-second mark of the title track to his debut EP, Tell Me A Tale.
Opening with breezy, brush-stroked percussion, jazz flute flourishes, and an acoustic guitar buried low in the mix, the Bees’ Paul Butler-produced recording modestly sets the stage for his profound yet unassuming voice. “I didn’t practice to make it sound like that,” Kiwanuka told BBC News, “it just sounds like that luckily for me.”
Above, you can watch our exclusive footage of Kiwanuka performing the tune at St. Stephen’s Church for this year’s Bushstock Festival in London. Backed only by a bassist and acoustic guitar, he pleads for “a tale that always was,” steeped in the building’s glorious 19th century natural reverb. Tell Me A Tale is available digitally here and on limited-edition vinyl thataway.