Right off the top, the ten-minute "Cold Little Heart" — nearly half of which is an instrumental intro — sets the mood: measured, melodic, masterful. The '70s rock orchestra of "Place I Belong" shimmers with intensity, while "I'll Never Love" is poignant in its desperation. Meanwhile, an anthem like "Black Man in a White World" couldn't be more direct: "I'm in love / But I'm still sad / I've found peace / But I'm not glad."
Kiwanuka's command of his acoustic artistry recalls the soul sounds of Bill Withers, Otis Redding and Isaac Hayes; if 2012 debut Home Again was him in exploration mode, Love & Hate finds the artist examining the relationship between emotional intelligence and self-determination. It admittedly spends a lot of time in a downer mode — a more light-amidst-the-dark feel would feel nice — but this sophomore effort remains affecting and affirming in its own quiet way. (Universal)