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Music Review

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Tales of America


Artist: J.S. Ondara
Label: Verve
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 15 February 2019

Nairobi-born and Minneapolis-based artist J.S. Ondara releases his debut album Tales of America via Verve. Born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, Ondara fell in love with Bob Dylan and moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota when he was 20 to pursue a career as a singer-songwriter. He began making his way in the local music scene, continually writing songs about what he saw, felt and experienced in a place far different from home...

J.S. Ondara's debut album Tales of America, is an acoustic examination of the American Dream from an outsider’s perspective; an introspection on a universal matter. Ondara's love of Bob Dylan shines through in tracks like 'Days Of Insanity', which has 'A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall' vibe to it.

This is an impressive debut album, and a brave one as the fact it's an acoustic release means that Ondara is laying himself bare and open to more scrutiny. If this had been an album with a band, then any wobbles in the vocals or playing could have been easily masked. Instead he offers up a more intimate and personal collection of songs. 'Turkish Bandana', in particular, relies solely on Ondara delivering a powerful vocal performance.

In addition there's plenty of diversity to ensure that whatever your mood there's something here for you to latch onto.


Nick Smithson

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