Album In Focus – J.S. Ondara – Tales of America
There was a whole lot of great music released in 2019, but J.S. Ondara, the Nairobi, Kenya-born songwriter, really hit it out of the park with his debut album, Tales of America.
You don`t have to take my word for it, though: Tales of America was nominated for Best American Album at the 2020 Grammy Awards. To find out why, keep reading and listen to this remarkable artist.
The debut album Tales of America by 26-year-old Kenyan J.S. Ondara bursts out of nowhere into the folk-rock scene of the motherland of folk. Ok not quite, but as good as out of nowhere. After all, the young singer with his tenor voice, which occasionally turns into a falsetto, has already been heard in bars and at “Open Mic” events. A green card lottery won the 20-year-old, who taught himself to sing as well as play the guitar, access to the Promised Land, to Minneapolis in the state of Minnesota, where one of his two role models, Bob Dylan, spent the last ten years of his singing life. His other role model was Jeff Buckley, who was tragically killed at a young age after his debut album Grace. The newcomer from Kenya has yet to achieve the fame of his role models, but is well on his way.
The flip side of the album includes “American Dream” with African folksong echoes and its subliminal longing for the land of his fathers. The straight guitar and bass-accompanied “Lebanon” also belongs to the category of successful songs.
By the way, the acoustic realisation of this album leaves you wanting more.
J.S. Ondara, guitar, vocals.