God knows Jalen N’Gonda’s got his work cut out if he wants to become a genuine big deal in the current climate of nu-soul “sensations”. In 2016 it’s already a heaving, varied and massive-selling genre, stretching from Adele to Anderson. Paak via Charles Bradley, Leon Bridges, St Paul & The Broken Bones, Michael Kiwanuka and many, many others.
But N’Gonda seems to have nascent talent on his side, so maybe he’ll make it work. His track ‘Holler (When You Call My Name)’, performed here for Mahogany, is certainly a special introduction. Melodically akin to The Beatles’ early material when they were consciously trying to ape the songwriting styles of Otis Redding and co (“plastic soul” was how McCartney self-mockingly referred to their results) the track seems both old-fashioned and effortless (no mean feat), while his voice is clearly impressive enough to warrant the burgeoning hype.
He comes from Maryland in the US, but has been studying at LIPA in Liverpool for the past couple of years. It really shows: