Michael Kiwanuka is aching, his voice ravaged with pain and despair. “Bleeding, I’m bleeding,” he sings on “Cold Little Heart,” the sprawling opening track of his new album, Love & Hate. This is the throaty wail of singers like Isaac Hayes and Sam Cooke, where the pangs of regret can be heard in each note and exasperated lyric. Yet Kiwanuka, a 29-year-old from London, sings like he’s been here before. It’s as if he is tapping into some personal torment well beyond his years.
Running 10 minutes and 11 seconds, it’s a tough listen by today’s standards, but it’s incredibly rewarding when given time to unfold in intimate spaces.