Folk n’ Roll Vol. 1: Tales Of Isolation
Kenyan-born, Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter Ondara is still early in his career, having just released his debut album, Tales of America, in 2019. But he’s already taken to heart folk music’s historic reputation for applying a conscience to social and political concerns. After the disruptive, income-threatening realities of COVID-19 lockdown set in, he spent a few days penning tunes that reflected these troubled times in convincing detail and another few days recording them in a friend’s living room. Ondara kept the musical palette simple on Folk n' Roll, Vol. 1: Tales of Isolation, relying on the wiry plaintiveness of his singing, the acoustic guitar strumming that ebbs and flows with it, and forlorn harmonica refrains. He turns his gaze to how loss of work can erode a human sense of worth (“Pulled Out of the Market”), how desperation can force resourcefulness (“Mr. Landlord”), how fear of infection can strip away the comfort of physical intimacy (“From Six Feet Away”), and how being cut off from contact can bring on acute distress ("Isolation Depression Syndrome [IDS]"). "This ain't no time to be here alone," he sings in a fragile quaver during the latter song.