Following their breakthrough 2019 release American Love Call, Durand Jones & The Indications return with Private Space which tries to bridge the gaps between, light-hearted fun/deep rooted pain and get down sexy jams/party pop, all in the vein of classy retro soul.
The Bloomington, Indiana based five-piece (Durand Jones – vocals, Aaron Frazer – drums/vocals, Blake Rhein – guitar, Steve Okonski – keys, Mike Montgomery – bass) start the record with their most pointed lyrics as “Love Will Work It Out” describes lynching’s in their hometown streets but puts faith in joy and love being the saving graces for society. The track is augmented by vibraphonist Joel Ross, horns, and a string section as it delivers in a Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On” style.
After discussing troubling times, the lyrics drop personal as dual lead singers Jones and Frazer discuss various degrees of love, lust, and heartache. The falsetto singing from Frazer drives the title track while Jones pours on the sex appeal for “More Than Ever” incorporating a bumping bassline and excellent supporting vocals from 79.5, who are splendid throughout the record.
The Indications also take a stab at straight-up funky modern pop with “Witchoo” and “Sea of Love”. While “Sea of Love” is piano spiced and dance-ready in Jamiroquai fashion, “Witchoo” dives right into the “Uptown Funk” of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars headfirst. Perhaps a little too on the nose, the song certainly proves the band is willing to go anywhere for their sound.
The group also pays tribute to the Philadelphia soul of Teddy Pendergrass with tracks like “Ride or Die” and “Sexy Thang” which, while surely get down jams, retain a wholesome quality around strings and sweet singing. The disco-funk of “The Way That I Do” has splashes of Bee Gees and will be a welcome addition when the band returns to the live stage, a place they thrive.
Private Space is a honeyed slice of the retro-soul with pop leanings from Durand Jones & The Indications as they continue to mine the 60’s and 70’s for inspiration.