Yes, that’s Ondara as in J.S. Ondara. Apparently the acclaimed singer-songwriter decided to lose the initials and go mononymic a while back. Thankfully, the Kenyan-born, Minneapolis-based artist hasn’t lost his knack for penning entrancing and topical folk numbers like the 11 Dylanesque solo acoustic compositions on the surprise release Folk N’ Roll Vol. 1: Tales Of Isolation, which he wrote and recorded during a recent week in lockdown. It might not be quite as riveting and fully realized as his 2019 debut Tales of America, but it definitely resonates more universally. And in any case, it’s a much more impressive quarantine creation than your sourdough starter. Bring on Vol. 2.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter J.S. Ondara, now mononymously known as Ondara, reveals Folk N’ Roll Vol 1: Tales of Isolation, a new collection of songs written in direct response to the current global pandemic. The album was composed and produced by Ondara while in lockdown in Minneapolis over the course of a week, and came out of Ondara’s deep need to create as a form of therapy during this incredibly uncertain time. “As I’m sure it has for all of us, I found the period of isolation to be wearing down the equilibrium of my sanity. After being stuck in a mental rut for four weeks, I woke up one morning and spent three days writing these son gs and three more days recording them in a friend’s living room in Minneapolis. It was a kind of vomit of words and melodies, compulsive and without any control or forethought. I wasn’t trying to make a record, I wasn’t trying to do anything really, I was only trying to provide myself with some kind of therapy, a desperate attempt at preserving my sanity. They are stories about the ramifications of a whole population isolating; about the personal, political and economical scars that will linger for the rest of our lives long after we have found our way past this. In crisis, the human spirit is laid bare, its volatility preyed upon and its resilience tested. This record is hence not only a portrait of the bizarre times we have unknowingly fallen into, but also a collective tale of the human spirit navigating uncertainty.”