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Durand Jones & the Indications: American Love Call

Reviewed by Ismo Tenkanen

Rating: 8/ 10

Soul Express CD of the Season - Q2/2019

US Dead Oceans CD, 2019
Buy this album from our CD Shop

1) Morning in America
2) Don't You Know (Feat. Aaron Frazer)
3) Circles
4) Court of Love (Feat. Aaron Frazer)
5) Long Way Home
6) Too Many Tears (Feat. Aaron Frazer)
7) Walk Away
8) What I Know About You (Feat. Aaron Frazer)
9) Listen to Your Heart
10) Sea Gets Hotter (Feat. Aaron Frazer)
11) How Can I Be Sure (Feat. Aaron Frazer)
12) True Love

I first heard a track from this album early March this year, when a DJ on Solar Radio was playing a couple of tracks from this CD. The radio DJ was playing a track titled Circles, and mentioned that the whole album is definitely a strong contender for the album of the year. I thought then, isn't this a little early to name "an album of the year", when only two months had just passed of the year 2019.

Now, over six months later, I realise how right the presenter was, as this CD is still my number one candidate for the best soul album in 2019. Surely this is retro-soul at its most typical, as most of the tracks sound like they were recorded in late 60's or early 70's, but for anyone who adored classic soul music of this period, this CD is a must-have item!

Durand Jones & The Indications is a group that is currently touring in the United Kingdom (Birmingham, London, Brighton, Bristol), and I just noticed most of the shows are sold out. Obviously the UK soul radio stations have done a proper job for promoting this group in the U.K., and I can only wish I get a chance to see them live, too. Actually American Love Call is the sophomore set of the group, and I have not yet heard their debut set, but surely I will order myself a copy. Even if the group sticks to 60s and early 70s soul sounds of The Impressions, Curtis Mayfield and Jackie Wilson, on their own website they announce that Durand Jones & the Indications arenít looking backwards. The group is lead by their brilliant lead baritone singer Durand Jones and the co-lead falsetto singer Aaron Frazer, who is also their drummer. All songs on their album are self-written by the band members, with Aaron Frazer clearly as the main composer. The group is backed by real strings and horns, and the sound is really authentic early 70s soul sound, as you can easily hear from the YouTube clips enclosed in this review.

Circles was the first track I ever heard from the group, and it still is one of my biggest favourites on this album, with its mellow mid-tempo atmosphere, a sweet soul -type arrangement and especially Louisiana born Durand Jones' raspy singing voice, the track is really a genuine grower. However, I have learnt to like even more a track titled Walk Away, which is spiced by some blissful flute soloing by Freddie Deboe and a truly impressive string & horn arrangement, and the melody sounds like it has been taken straight from a Bobby Womack album of the early 70s!

Luckily, the whole album continues in the same tone. The opening track Morning in America may sound a bit too close to the Gil Scott-Heron classic Winter In America, but then again, we never have enough of songs in this calibre and social conscios message: "A junkie waits in Jacksonville / Prescription for the pain / As what the doctor ordered / Comes screaming through the vain".

I actually did not find a weak link among the tracks, as the overall standard remains extremely high throughout the set. Other tunes worth a special mention include the doo-wop-ish early 60s type of ballad Court of Love (which would not be out of place on American Graffiti movie soundtrack), the bouncy mid-tempo groover Listen to Your Heart or the swaying mid-pacer Sea Gets Hotter, which captures perfectly the atmosphere of a cool sea vibe on a warm summer evening.

And well, if you don't trust my praisals, why don't you read a 5-star CD review on UK quality newspaper Guardian, or simply believe your own ears after listening to the sound clips - and then rush to buy yourself a copy of this CD! You won't regret it!

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