Alt. pop artist Jong SL is back this year with promising new material. The Toronto via Buffalo singer-songwriter is following up his 2017 EP Ice Cream with a new single, “Driving Away,” foreshadowing an upcoming full length project. Known for his cross-genre blending, the track is Jong’s most fine-tuned and musically diverse release to date.

The once light and bouncy air of Jong’s music is now treated with a heavier shade. His previous sound of coffee shop pop meets blue-eyed soul is amplified here with darker and more ambient elements. The tune itself floats through different phases, borrowing from both alt. rock and contemporary R&B, and pairs acoustic guitars with electric ones, and ethereal synth embellishments with a tight modern R&B groove. Even from a lyrically standpoint, “Driving Away” moves in a more melancholic direction, hinting at what is to come from Jong in the future.

In regards to the production, “Driving Away” is the artist’s most polished and intricate work yet. Alternating instruments and effects are panned wide through both channels, and there is plenty of ear candy gliding through the speakers. The new single opens with a pulsing electric piano and bright acoustic guitar, before giving way to a full band arrangement. Jong’s vocals are smoothly layered, with double tracking and occasional harmony, and stacked neatly on top of the mix. However, it is the electric guitar that sets the mood, initially shimmering and ambient but eventually letting loose with echoing distortion. At the end of the song, there is a crescendoing guitar solo which then subsides into stereo strummed acoustic guitars. This is an excellent touch, and provides a stand out moment on the track.

There is currently more music in the works from Jong SL that is sure to follow this moodier and more eclectic vibe. In the mean time, “Driving Away” is now available to stream via Spotify.