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Taken from JME Jacksonville Music Experience (Feb 29, 2024)

Jalen Ngonda Falls in Unrequited Love on “Illusions”

by Scott Russell


Courtesy of the artist
In a statement, Ngonda describes “Illusions” as “the story of a man who is madly in love with someone and often thinks of the life they could have together | Courtesy of the artist


Just months after releasing his debut album on Daptone Records, London-via-D.C. soul singer-songwriter Jalen Ngonda is back with a brand new single, the bittersweet, Motown-inspired “Illusions.”


A talented purveyor of time-warp soul a la Leon Bridges, Ngonda’s distinctive voice is his most valuable asset, a nimble falsetto that evokes explosive joy and eats high notes for breakfast. On “Illusions,” however, he uses those vocals as a potent tool of subversion, rendering dreamy images of a rosy-eyed romance, only to expose those flashes of passion as “Illusions of / A life and love I’ll never know.”



The track’s timeless, springy groove—buoyed by an abundant bass line, sudden strings and horns, and lush backing vocals—commits to the bit of a life-altering love, and it’s only Ngonda’s occasional reminders, namely in the chorus, that shake you awake from the dream. “Illusions” has such a celebratory vibe, you almost wonder if the reality of it all actually matters. What makes a feeling “real,” anyway?


In a statement, Ngonda describes “Illusions” as “the story of a man who is madly in love with someone and often thinks of the life they could have together. As he awakes one morning, he realizes his infatuations have led him to become delusional from reality given the fact that the love interest knows nothing of his existence.” He cites Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone as an influence on its lyrics, and Motown mainstays like Smokey Robinson and Martha and the Vandellas as influences on the music.


A press release describes “Illusions” as a “glimpse into what Jalen has in store for us for 2024,” so keep an ear out for more from Ngonda and Daptone. The esteemed soul and R&B record label released his full-length debut Come Around And Love Me in September 2023.


For now, Ngonda has a pair of U.S. shows on the horizon—see the details down below.


Jalen Ngonda Tour Dates:


3/2/24 – Brooklyn NY – Sultan Room
3/3/24 – Washington DC – Union Stage @ Hyatt House




 
 

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