Yesterday on NPR, there was a segment where Los Angeles Times music critic Ann Powers was asked if a “new Bob Dylan”—or at least a new “name” singer/songwriter—had stepped forward with a song that really crystalized what the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations are all about. Powers answered that, no, it hadn’t really happened because of the leaderless, un-amplified nature of the movement’s setting, and she was was right, but I’m guessing that she hasn’t heard the music of 23-year-old London-based soul singer Michael Kiwanuka... yet.
Why should we expect that the “Blowin’ In The Wind” of 2011 was actually going to come from Zuccotti Park, anyway? For me, Michael Kiwanuka’s new song, “I’m Getting Ready” could be the song that best sums up the historical moment we’re in. It’s not as if he’s addressing “revolution” or Occupy Wall Street or any other specific location or uprising around the globe with the song’s simple lyrics. There are no grievances aired, no complaints or demands made. But what he has done is compose and perform an “anthem” level song—it’s gorgeous and uplifting, almost a hymn—that makes the case for standing up for yourself. It’s beautifully of the moment.
I haven’t been this knocked out by a new talent since I got hip to Laura Marling. With “I’m Getting Ready,” Kiwanuka takes the whole Nick Drake/Nico’s Chelsea Girl thing and really makes it his own. His voice is strong—Bill Withers-level strong—and he’s a cool-looking motherfucker, too. Dig his Tappa Zukie fashion sense! I have a feeling Michael Kiwanuka is going to become a very big star in the coming months.
If anyone is organizing a benefit concert for Occupy Wall Street, Michael Kiwanuka would be an absolute must for that bill.
See what you think:
“Tell Me A Tell,” which is a much different sounding song altogether than “I’m Getting Ready,” but equally gorgeous: