With performances at major festivals and a single release on cards, Getintothis’ Amaan Khan reflects on the impressive momentum of Jalen N’Gonda.
There is nothing wrong with shunning the ongoing trends of popular music. In fact, disregarding the expectations and the desperate need to fit in sometimes lead to great heights. Prince did it, and see how much we miss him now. While Jalen N’Gonda is yet to travel great distances before justifiable parallels can be drawn between him and legends like Prince, there is no denying that Jalen’s soul crooning is a breath of fresh air in a scene filled with ‘psyche-pop’, ‘pop-punk’ and the all-encapsulating ‘indie-rock’.
Hailing from Maryland, USA and currently based in Liverpool, Jalen is well on his way to establish himself in the industry having already played in festivals like LIMF and in support of the likes of Laura Mvula, as well as being booked to play at The Great Escape Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival, Berganfest, Kendall Calling etc. later this year.
See our guide to music festivals of 2016
Jalen’s uniqueness lies in his authentic and honest dialogue with the traditional sounds of Motown and Otis Redding. The blues and soul influences in his music are not subtle but very obvious and in-your-face. His velvety singing is as simple as his songwriting which reminds one of the early rock and roll tunes that directly fed the Merseybeat many decades ago. What makes Jalen important is his ability to take these old but timeless elements and add a freshness to them.
Among the many things that will happen in his career this year, is the release of his single Holler (When you call my name), which he has also previously performed for Mahogany Sessions and Sofar sounds, around July 18th. If the momentum of his career continues, Jalen just might emerge as a notable figure in the new generation of one of the world’s most loved genres of music.