Durand Jones & The Indications is easily one of the first bands I would point someone to if they wanted to hear some quality modern day retro soul. The Indiana five-piece has quickly rose to the top of my list since their 2016 self-titled debut and especially after their Headphone Approved sophomore album, American Love Call, in 2019. That brings us to the group’s third LP, Private Space, which found the band utilizing the hold on live music to settle in a cabin in upstate New York and do more experimenting with sounds than their previous albums. Those sessions brought in vibraphonist Joel Ross (Blue Note), an eight-piece string section and friends from the group 79.5 to sing backups. The overall result is an album that is the smoothest release to date in their catalog.
From the opening ballad, “Love Will Work It Out,” you will hear the band’s confident groove as it also is the first song that highlights Private Space’s theme of using joy, love, community and friendship to pull us all out of isolation and loss. Everything on this track works, from the step harmonies on the chorus to the soulful vocal delivery of Durand Jones. The track gives you a side you already know of the band while the next song, “Witchoo,” offers up something really fresh as it is an excellent up-tempo disco groover that fantastically plays on the high-low vocals of both Aaron Frazer and Durand Jones. The lingering exclaimed “Baby, wit’ you!” is hard to get out of your head when this song concludes and it is my favorite song on the album.
The rest of Private Space mostly settles back into more sonically gorgeous 70’s sounding soul and smartly continues to use the deeper voice of Jones balanced with the high falsetto of Frazer. This back n’ forth keeps the album moving even though the record is more ballad heavy. I would have liked to seen the band take a few more reaches on Private Space because “Witchoo” proves they have plenty more avenues to explore. With that said, Private Space finds the band hitting on all cylinders as each of the ten songs here have that timeless soul vibe to them and are easy on the ears. From the “getting down” jams of “Ride Or Die” and “Sexy Thang” to the more stylish funk on “The Way That I Do” and “Sea Of Love,” you really can’t find a track on here that feels out of place. Durand Jones & The Indications represent an old sound but with the hopeful message and modern grooves found on Private Space, they once again prove the group is at the top of their game and their contemporaries.
Key Tracks: “Witchoo” / “Ride Or Die” / “The Way That I Do”
Artists With Similar Fire: Curtis Harding / Teddy Pendergrass / Black Pumas
– Reviewed by Christopher Anthony