There are at least four things to love about the new Durand Jones & The Indications album:
From everything I’ve heard so far, the music of this group sounds pure and alive much in the way that Black Pumas resonate with the listener on a very gut-instinct, heart-felt level. Here on Private Space, the title of Durand Jones & The Indications new and third release, the instrumentation feels honest, one of the hallmarks of most of the new era of soul artists coming up through the ranks (I hate using terms like “retro” and “revival” as this is more than just an homage).
Built on a passion for songwriting with a timeless vibe, Durand Jones & The Indications’ music does not seem outwardly reliant outwardly on electronic production flavors of the moment. Yet, it is a modern electric rock ’n soul band. I don’t know for sure if they use any samples making their music, but if they are it is not designed to be a featured element. This sounds like a tight band playing as a unit, not relying on any sort of gimmicks which litter many modern pop soul records these days.
There are hooks and vibes for days on Private Space…
To that… the songwriting on this album is solid, revolving around classic pop and soul forms yet feeling of its own thing (if you will). The band’s sound is kind of like if The Sylistics, The Chi-lites and The Delfonics picked up today on making records like they were doing around 1972-74. That’s not to say this music sounds dated. On the contrary, it sounds fresh and timeless really (there is a difference). These guys know how to write original songs which pay homage to the past while deeply internalizing their influences for the present and future. I hear a nice sense of progress from the first album to this new one (I have to get the second one soon). They are clearly growing as performers, songwriters and producers.
After I started writing this review, I decided to check the band’s website for any details I might have missed. I think my assessment is a on target with the band’s intent. From their current bio we learn:
“Developed after being apart for much of the year, Private Space is creatively explosive and delights in upending expectations. Anchored by a crate-digging sensibility and the high-low harmonies of Aaron Frazer and Durand Jones, Private Space shows The Indications’ mastery at melding revival sounds with a modern attitude.
“Settled in a cabin in upstate New York, the five-piece spent significantly more time experimenting with sound than previous releases. ‘It was like this buildup of all the ideas, the love, and the need to make music with these guys again,’ Durand says. They leaned into songwriting and brought in vibraphonist Joel Ross (Blue Note), an eight-piece string section and friends from the group 79.5 to sing backups. From ideation to the final album cut, Private Space is a meditation on what gets us through isolation and loss: community, love and friendship.”
The recording and production feels honest on Private Space. You get the full vibe of the band yet the vocals remain a priority here. The drums are distinct but warm and not in your face. In fact, the drums sound especially “right” both in how they were recorded and mixed as well as how they were played.
I don’t know how Private Space was recorded technically but it doesn’t have that obvious digital feel to it. The vocals are clear and pure, without even a hit of any sort of auto-tune effect or other vocal exciter. Everything feels pretty analog and warm here but it might just be smart digital production. Either way, its good!
The vocals are passionate and round. Like the Black Pumas singer-songwriter Eric Burton, lead singer Durand Jones and periodic second lead Aaron Frazer both clearly believe in this music and the band’s mission. There is no hesitation. The performances are exemplary, selling these songs with heart and soul.
If I have one complaint on this album it is with the quality of the pressing. The colored vinyl is hella pretty and mostly it sounds good, at times great even. But… I have to be honest where there are issues and at least on my copy there are some moments of significant noise happening on both sides of the LP. Its not a total deal breaker and the noises may work their way out with more play but you should go into this knowing that the colored vinyl limited edition may not be your best bet for fidelity. There is a black vinyl version out there and that might well be the better path to take for the best sound on Private Space.
You can find Private Space streaming in 24-bit, 44.1 kHz fidelity on Qobuz (click here) and at 16/44.1 on Tidal (click here) if you enjoy these online services. It will sound fine for mobile listening but I prefer the sound on the LP. Until there is a significantly higher resolution version streaming, for now, vinyl records are likely the best way to hear this music.
Whatever way you listen, do check this band out. Below are some of the videos for the album including the album opener “Love Will Work It Out” and the fun disco-esque tunes “The Way That I Do” and “Witchoo” (featuring drummer Aaron Frazer on lead vocals).
This is fun music which feels just right for our times. Hoping to see Durand Jones & The Indications when it is safe to see shows again (hopefully sometime soon!).