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Ondara’s new album, Spanish Villager No: 3, was predominately produced by Ondara and Mike Viola (Jenny Lewis, Dan Wilson) with contributions from Taylor Goldsmith and Griffin Goldsmith of Dawes, Sebastian Steinberg, Tim Kuhl and Jeremy Stacey. The new collection of songs features a much more full, electric sound.
Of the album, Ondara states, “This collection of work and the work that lies ahead in presenting it to the world, is a metaphor for my spiritual path. There is death and resurrection in it, a peeling of layers, a pursuit of the truest form of the self in the universe. Ironically, the adaptation of the Spanish Villager character has made me more acquainted with myself. By creating an obvious demarcation between the art and the artist, I have charted two paths of maturation. One path is the maturation of the Spanish Villager as a work of art, as a character in a narrative, as a commodity partaking in the mandatory sport of capitalism; The other is my own personal maturation into a spiritual, integrated, and useful member of society.”
The namesake behind the new album is The Spanish Villager: a mysterious man with a potent message who has proven to be a versatile guy: he’s the subject of a short story Ondara wrote and turned into a graphic novel, and now a new album.
Spanish Villager No: 3 follows his 2020 sophomore album, Folk N’ Roll Vol 1: Tales of Isolation, and his 2019 debut album, Tales of America, which received a nomination for Best Americana Album at the 62nd Grammy Awards. Ondara also received a nod for Best Emerging Act at the 2019 Americana Awards.
Ondara grew up in Nairobi, Kenya listening to American alt-rock and making up his own songs for as long as he can remember. At an early age he fell in love with the music of Bob Dylan and was granted a visa through the immigration lottery system. He chose Minneapolis as his home to pursue a career as a singer and songwriter with Dylan in mind. He began making his way in the local music scene, continually writing songs about what he saw, felt and experienced in a place far different from home.
Kiely Connell is a Nashville, Tennessee transplant with rustbelt roots. Hailing from Hammond, Indiana just four houses down from the Illinois state line, Kiely draws inspiration from the hardworking people of her native Midwest community. As one of her peers put it: “Kiely’s songs walk a tightrope, planting each step equally with both the grace at the heart of folk music, and the steadfast confidence of an experienced rock and roll soul.” Kiely’s powerful four-octave range will take you on a journey that transcends the ordinary.
In a time when most country and Americana artists are forging a similar path, Kiely takes fans on a different journey to unknown places — sonically, and emotionally. She writes songs that have a gothic country aesthetic- a blend of somber poetry and western melodies delivered with her rich and brooding voice. Her voice merges gritty blues with an ethereal upper register, leaving audiences comparing her to the likes of Patsy Cline, Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell. Kiely’s incomparable voice, and her poetic storytelling truly make her an Americana artist to watch.
“Kiely Connell may be a newcomer now, but based on this striking recording, she won’t be for long.” – Holler
“Kiely Connell and Calumet Queen constitute a remarkable and auspicious debut that you can see initiating a strong musical legacy as it unfolds into the future.” – Saving Country Music