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Pop - Released May 29, 2020 | Verve Forecast

One year after the release of his debut (Qobuzissime-winning) album in February 2019, J.S. Ondara has released, in the midst of the Covid-19 (then)epidemic, the aptly named “Tales of Isolation”. Lockdown clearly hasn’t deterred this young Kenyan, described by his label as a fusion of Tracy Chapman and Michael Kiwanuka. Following along the lines of his two most beloved records, Dylan’s “The Freewheelin’” and Springsteen’s “Nebraska”, Ondara offers a collection of acoustic songs that are carried by his vibrant singing and plaintive, androgynous voice that pulls on the heart strings. In “Folk n’ Roll Vol. 1: Tales Of Isolation”, the American Dream which fascinates him so once more comes face to face with life’s struggles. And creation in itself is most moving when the artist expresses what’s closest to them. Such is the ideal fuel for the songs of a troubadour of Ondara’s calibre, who is at his most true and powerful when the skies are dark and stormy. © Max Dembo/Qobuz

Pop - Released February 15, 2019 | Verve Forecast

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Qobuzissime
The American dream is an inexhaustible subject. It is approached head-on, sideways, from behind, above and below. It is the ultimate fuel for hordes of songwriters; even when they weren’t even born in America. As is the case for J.S. Ondara. This young Kenyan, who his label calls "the link between Tracy Chapman and Michael Kiwanuka" (an easy claim but not wrong), went there to try his luck. In 2013, Ondara dropped anchor at his aunt's house in Minneapolis. Having only previously known his native Nairobi, the musician took his songs into bars, clubs and even out onto the street, equipped with only his voice and a simple acoustic guitar, perhaps in the hope of becoming a third millennium Bob Dylan. The Dylan of The Freewheelin', his favourite record; Springsteen's Nebraska also being one of his top picks... But to limit himself to cloning those giants wouldn’t be very interesting. And Tales of America avoids that. First of all, J.S. Ondara has his own voice. His plaintive tone is a little androgynous and makes him truly unique. On the instrumental side, he adds some more daring flavours with the help of the great Andrew Bird, Griffin Goldsmith from Dawes and Joey Ryan from the Milk Carton Kids duo. In a divided America and a crisis-riddled world, J. S. Ondara's songs are more than just bandages, they’re powerful balms that penetrate the skin and warm the heart. This is a Qobuzissime that we needed... © Marc Zisman/Qobuz