Rich, earthy smells gravitate toward the center of the room in culinary harmony. Steam rises. Smiles are shared from corners of the eyes. Quick shoulder rubs and winks are the currency of this autonomous nation-state.
There’s music playing, too loudly for conversation, but no one minds. The hiss of sautéing onions dances between beats like a flamboyant lead guitar. The chef’s knife keeps time on a thick wooden cutting board. Later, everyone will break bread around a big oak table to celebrate being home again.
I’ve never experienced this type of gathering outside of a Robert Altman movie. And I doubt that I ever will because my clan is becoming more fractured by the week — a sad reality that stings if I focus on it too long. But if it were to happen, I’d like Michael Kiwanuka’s soulful masterpiece Home Again to be the soundtrack playing in the background.
I was immediately drawn to Kiwanuka’s organic musical style. Listening to him reminds me of my childhood. My parents were deep into their thirties when I arrived. This fact couldn’t help but shape my earliest music memories. While many of my contemporaries were being raised with a Woodstock or maybe a disco soundtrack. I was nurtured by the supple voices of Nat King Cole, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, and Frank Sinatra. This music touched my soul in ways that I never imagined possible. Kiwanuka’s soulful stirrings allow me to share this gift with my daughters.
Home Again gives me hope that my wife, daughters, and I can build a home that is filled with sweet memories and good music. Just the other day, I heard my daughters singing the chorus of “I’ll Get Along.” Their soft, angelic voices, the antithesis of the British-soul folkster’s evocative crooning, floated through our kitchen and convinced me that we would always get along regardless of what happens in our lives.
Home Again is an album meant for sharing, for loving, and for taking with you when you go back home again. I hope my daughters will always remember to bring their copies.