DURAND JONES and the INDICATIONS; Private Space (Dead Oceans/Colemine)

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Mixed race soul fivesome Durand Jones and the Indications have been around since 2012 when they met as  students at Indiana University in Bloomington. They made their recording debut in 2016 with an eponymous album that betrayed their love of classic 60s and 70s soul. They followed through in 2019 with ‘American Love Call’ – a more polished affair with a bigger production. However, there was no lack of soul intensity across the album. Little wonder it was hailed by soul tastemakers, embraced by soul collectors  and ended up being acclaimed as one of THE soul albums of that year.

Earlier this year we were delighted to learn that there was a new Indications album on the way. The announcement came via the release of a single – the quirky and catchy ‘Witchoo’ which was a little different to anything we’d heard from the band before. Synth-led, there was a distinct disco flavour and featured the wonderful falsetto of drummer Aaron Fraser but make no mistake, there was a real soul undertow to it. A second single emerged in June… ‘Love Will Work It Out’. Durand Jones took lead on this one. A mellow, lush cut with full-on harmonies, it’s the opening track on the ‘Private Space’ album and it’s a wonderful scene setter for what’s to come – essentially a plethora of classy, convincing contemporary soul music.

Album highlights? Well, any of  the set’s 10 tracks would standout in lesser company. Here, each cut is a gem. For starters, the album’s title track is a stunner. It’s a classic Thom Bell/Philly flavoured ballad with Aaron Fraser at the mic. He’s there too on the similarly Bell- flavoured, up-tempo ‘The Way That I Do’, the mid-tempo ‘Ride Or Die’ and the ballad ‘I Can See’. ‘More Than Ever’ is another boasting a Thom Bell flavour. Jones takes lead on this one and I can offer no greater recommendation than to suggest that this is what David Ruffin could’ve done with Bell at the production desk. Yes, it’s that good. As good is ‘Reach Out’ – with a lovely ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’ style intro. That man Jones on lead again! Him too on the grittier ‘Sexy Thang’ which totally avoids the  crassness which the title might imply. Listen up  for the mid-way gear change and switch of lead voice!

We could go on, of course, but that would be labouring the point. ‘Private Space’ is every bit as good as its predecessor. Why? Well – a set of great songs, delivered with passion, commitment and a clear love and knowledge of the genre and, importantly, the band uses two very distinct lead voices. It’s a  perfect soul pairing (Temptations anyone?) and with sympathetic support from the rest of the band, they deliver in spades! ‘Private Space’ – album of the year 2021? I think so!

(BB) 5/5