“Soulful songwriting with a classic twist…continually looks ahead” Clash
“It’s not every day you hear something as warming as this” Notion
“Thank god classic soul never goes out of style” Afropunk
“A special introduction” NME
Jalen N’Gonda has premiered latest single ‘I Need You’, which is available now. This follows the success of early tracks ‘Holler’ (When You Call My Name)’ and ‘Why I Try’, which are approaching 1.5 million streams and have seen the young singer and songwriter already open for the likes of Lauryn Hill, Jamie Woon and Laura Mvula. A host of summer festivals – in addition to Jalen‘s first shows back in his native US – are also confirmed today, with further headline show coming up on July 5th at London’s Paper Dress Vintage.
‘I Need You’ is an accomplished, summer-ready mix of old and new school R&B, capturing that equally timeless frustration of someone who’s lost and blue without their significant other. Equal parts Motown as Merseyside, musically ‘I Need You’ blends a love of Martha Reeves (who Jalen has opened for) with The Last Shadow Puppets, exploring the shared ground in-between.
Quickly emerging as a rich and measured new voice, Jalen N’Gonda draws from a complex personal and musical heritage. His family (in part of Zambian descent) herald from Maryland, where N’Gonda was raised in a small town just outside Washington DC. The son of a day care specialist and IT worker, vintage R&B filled the house, before N’Gonda moved to Liverpool with little knowledge of the UK besides its musical heritage, and a long-held desire to move far away. In Liverpool, the realities of English life – and the stark contrast to a home where very little happens – quickly broadened Jalen’s horizons, leading to a cross-pollination of influences which can be felt in early tracks like ‘I Need You’.
With a full EP to follow later this year, Jalen N’Gonda‘s already warmly-familiar tone is continually marking him out as one of the year’s most promising newcomers.