Track Review: Jalen N’Gonda: I Guess That Makes Me A Loser

‘Sounding like it’s emerged from the archives, you can’t help but smile at the authentic musicality.’

Re-intro to Jalen
Having first featured Jalen back in October, it came as
no surprise to me that his latest offering, ‘I Guess That Makes Me A Loser’ would deserve a follow up. Staying true to the stylistic influences found within ‘Holler’,
‘Why I Try’ and ‘I Need You,’
Jalen’s new release provides further demonstration of the musical perfection that can be found fusing elements of a bygone era. Filled with impassioned and reflective moments, it’s an accomplished sound which makes for a winning track.

Featured Track: I Guess That Makes Me A Loser
Making us immediately feel like we’re hearing a track
from a 60’s film, a statement like combination of synchronised, regimental style snare and guitar chords grabs our attention. Produced in this manner, it’s a sound which wouldn’t have been out of place then, and it isn’t out of place now. There’s no denying that it’s a heady mix of blues, soul and rock ‘n’ roll but what fantastic influences. And what a fantastic sound.

Bringing more than a hint of elegance and sophistication to the strut-inducing atmosphere, the opening lyrics of ‘Many secrets are kept inside’ set up the lyrical journey which is to follow. Warm and silky in equal measure, Jalen’s vocal sounds as enticing as ever and set to an accompaniment of shuffle-esque drums, delicate bass and distinctive guitar chords, it’s effortlessly stylish.

Ensuring that we never feel too far from the era of influence, alternations of styles occur throughout the first half of the track. Creating endless musical nods, they work together seamlessly and showcase both the softer and more projected sides of Jalen’s sound. However, while every element is of equal strength, the real stand out moments are where Jalen’s lead vocal is joined by idiomatic backing vocals. Working in harmony, they sound like they have emerged from the archives and as a result, you smile at the authenticity.

Arriving at the mid-point of the track – having moved through subtle harmonic changes – we are greeted by the first occurence of the chorus. Initially surprising, given the impact of the track to this point, it feels more than slightly understated. However, the immensely musical decision to do just that perfectly highlights the essence of Jalen’s tracks. They may not always shout, but they will always scream sublime musicality.

Having returned to the opening ideas following this, the track regains momentum and in doing so, pushes us through the second, much shorter verse. Less than half the length of the first, you may think it would feel too short. However, with Jalen’s vocal taking on a more impassioned tone than before, the emphasis becomes very much focused on quality and not quantity. But the quality within the track doesn’t end there.

Becoming unexpectedly stripped back from it’s fuller sound, a contrasting bridge sees the guitar lines noticeably reduced to reveal triplet infused drums. While having been rhythmically inferred throughout, making them centre stage brings a much more delicate feel to the track. Equally, with the lyrics taking on a more melancholic form, Jalen’s wonderful falsetto allows the true vulnerability within to come through. Providing a few moments of beautiful reflection, it makes for the perfect lead up to an emotion filled conclusion.

Follow Jalen N’Gonda on: Twitter and Facebook
Listen to Jalen N’Gonda on: Spotify and YouTube
Find out more about Jalen N’Gonda’s music at: Artist Review: Jalen N’Gonda and Gig Review: Keeva and Jalen N’Gonda at The Islington.

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