Durand Jones and the Indications Show the Power of Old-School Soul and Tight Musicianship on 'American Love Call'

Photo: Rosie Cohe / Pitch Perfect PR

American Love Call takes Durand Jones and the Indications to new heights of musicianship, and it turns out that they are, indeed, much stronger the more they work together.

American Love Call
Durand Jones and the Indications

Dead Oceans / Colemine

1 March 2019

Just under a year ago, Indiana University-born group Durand Jones and the Indications released a self-titled debut rich with strong, classic soul vibes and serious funk energy. With irresistible grooves, the group let loose with swinging, brassy rock 'n' roll. It was a shot of concentrated nostalgia, one that still managed to sound fresh in 2018.

Now, the group delivers yet again with their sophomore release, American Love Call. It ends up a little slower, more somber than the group's first album, music to contemplate rather than to get down to on the dance floor. The group wears this new hat well, sounding every bit as old-school cool as ever while commenting on contemporary social issues in a way that shows as much consciousness as it does musical cohesion.

"Morning in America" opens the album, every bit as hefty in its subject matter as it sounds, belying its rolling midtempo. The song touches on political bureaucracy, the opioid crisis, heavy metals in Michigan water, and general inequities from coast to coast. By the ferocious electric guitar solo that fades out at the end, Jones has called out racial and economic segregation alike, going from "morning in America" to "mourning in America" in a matter of minutes. Later in the album, "Sea Gets Hotter" is a jazz-tinged riff on climate change, troubled times, and the ephemerality of each human life ("World's weight upon us / But it don't mean nothing / 'Cause we're leaving soon / So we cruise, baby").

That is not to say, by any means, that the group has lost its sense of love, hope, or fun. Early single "Don't You Know" features drummer Aaron Frazer's falsetto voice doing most of the leading and Jones anchoring the song with satisfying harmonies; the song is a straightforward love ballad with understated moments of perfectly placed reverb. Following it in the same vein is "Circles", a wistful ode to infatuation laced with both Motown-style violins and the occasional fluttering synth line to mesh old and new.

Solid tracks fill the album, made even more powerful by the increased presence of the Indications around frontman Jones. American Love Call takes the band to new heights of musicianship, and it turns out that they are, indeed, much stronger the more they work together. The vocal harmonies on "Listen to Your Heart" are about as angelic as it gets. Throughout the album, Jones is still an undoubtedly dynamic frontman, but the whole group together makes an arguably better ensemble when everyone gets the chance to be fully present. It may even be the key factor that allows the Indications to make such a shift from a high-energy past to a more laid-back present, as the intricacies in their interactions make even slower songs captivating.

The album ends with "True Love", an exquisitely simple expression of longing that begins with a sweetly strummed guitar line and drifts, tranquil and soothing even as Jones passionately pours his heart out to a hypothetical soulmate. It makes for a pleasant way to end an album that never shies away from the rougher parts of life. Such range and care throughout American Love Call cement Durand Jones and the Indications' place in modern music - as artists working with today and yesterday in a way that shows a true understanding of both.





Bibio Discusses 'Sleep on the Wing' and Why His Dreams Are of the Countryside

"I think even if I lived in the heart of Tokyo, I'd still make music that reminds people of the countryside because it's where my dreams often take me," says Bibio (aka Stephen Wilkinson) of his music and his new rustic EP.

Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.


A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.


The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.


90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.