Formed out of Indiana University’s Soul Revue and during rehearsals in a basement, Durand Jones & the Indications’ first two albums were unashamedly retro soul. After the second one, American Love Call, gained international attention and acclaim, the third broadens their interests considerably. With vocals shared between Jones (lower) and drummer Aaron Frazer (higher), they stretch from floaty melancholia to gossamer funk and disco, with synths and strings. As many as 19 musicians appear on their most lavish concoctions.
Private Space may wear its classic influences on its sleeve (the Isley Brothers, the Temptations and Earth, Wind & Fire among them) but lockdowns and separation have produced a distinctly modern flavour of yearning for post-Covid togetherness and better times.
Reach Out is a superb song about the hand of friendship. The uptempo Witchoo adds a tiny hint of wistfulness to lyrics anticipating post-crisis dancefloor nirvana (“if the drinks keep flowin’ I could go all night witchoo”). Love Will Work It Out brilliantly reflects on pre-pandemic times (“I sang some songs to heal some souls / Lookin’ back it felt so very long ago”) before jolting the listener into grief (“all the people lost made me fall right down to my knees”) and contemplation of the contemporary US (“modern day lynchings in the streets that I called home”).
However, such downbeat moments are more than tempered by the songs’ life-affirming positivity. They tantalisingly anticipate catharsis, and are assembled and delivered with hope, love and affection.