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Jalen Ngonda, 'If You Don't Want My Love'

Jalen Ngonda wasn't singing the first time I saw him, but his presence was striking nonetheless. I was waiting in line at the Baltimore Soundstage when a man walked by in a dignified leather jacket. Though he vanished off somewhere unknown, I saw him again — the next time, he was on stage. He tuned a guitar as the crowd chattered, then opened his mouth to sing. The room fell silent on his first note.

Ngonda's latest release, "If You Don't Want My Love," holds this same power. He says the song's ideal for both Friday nights and Sunday mornings — a sweet, sunshiny serenade invites the funk-threaded spirit of rock and roll. "If you don't want my love, let me know," he growls.

Ngonda commands the same attention on your phone — or record player since the song also came out as a 7-inch single — as he does in-person. But he does so in moderation, offering just enough to suspend you between wanting more and knowing that you got everything you need.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Juma Sei
Juma Sei is a 2022-2023 Kroc Fellow at NPR. He is a Sierra Leonean-American from Portland, Oregon, and a 2022 graduate of Yale College.
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