Durand Jones & The Indications: American Love Call
Durand Jones and the Indications evoke two giants of American music, right off the bat, on their new record, which is filled with velvety retro soul that touches on romantic heartache and a pointed sadness about the state of things in the U.S. today. The record title conjures a connection to Duke Ellington, who wrote the standard “Creole Love Call” in the 1920s. It was an early sign of Ellington’s ambitions beyond the Cotton Club—that he aimed to be considered a composer, and all that entailed. The other half-allusion is in the opening track, “Morning in America,” inspired by Martin Luther King’s movement, The Poor People’s Campaign; the title references the famous phrase of Ronald Reagan meant to suggest a renewed sense of national optimism, but which, in fact, coincided with rise of the kind of enshrined greed, deregulation and conservatism that has grown in the age of Trump. It’s like a cousin to Gil Scott-Heron’s deep and ominous “Winter in America.” “It’s morning in America, but I can’t see the dawn,” Jones sings. And, in a pointed play on the words “We mourning in America.” Jones has a buttery falsetto that can sound like Curtis Mayfield and, elsewhere, he dives a little deeper, suggesting Marvin Gaye, or Sam Cooke. Those are big names to kick around, but Jones and this band of first-rate players honor the tradition. This is a follow-up to their self-titled debut, and remains mostly in the same vein as that statement of purpose. The playing and production are impeccable. The drummer possesses a touch of almost Bonham-ish force, but it’s not out of place or overstressed because the rhythm section creates ample room for every detail in the music. The record opens with a lament about the strain of contemporary life on average Americans, but it slides into ardent slow-burn bedroom grooves.