‘Morning In America’, the opening song on Durand Jones and The Indications’ second album ‘American Love Call’, has a special kind of energy. It is at once poised and stoic, but fiercely defiant. They sing of nation’s hard workers, like the school teachers that rise EARLY in Richmond, Virginia and the nurses heading home after a night shift. While the politicians in Washington DC are allowing the water in Flint, Michigan to be tainted, the West Coast readies for another grind. The song ends with a somber note: “It’s morning in America / We’re mourning in America / And I can’t see the dawn”.
It is the first of many truly superb songs on ‘American Love Call’. Formed at while at university in the state of Indiana, the five-piece have built on the garage and blues stylings of their self-titled debut album and turned in an expansive record, full of observations of a nation in transition. File this alongside the immaculate solo work of Curtis Mayfield, Al Green and their heroes Sam Cooke and James Brown.
On the jaunty, string-laden ‘Long Way Home’, frontman Durand Jones’ heartfelt vocals reference the strife and undeniable pain and exploitation America was built upon: “So we walk along the road / That we did not plan / We boarded on the ships / To a promised land”. On the soothing ‘How Can I Be Sure’, drummer Aaron Frazer’s falsetto vocals warn that “the headlines says there’s harder roads to come”.
Some of the album’s most enjoyable – and hopefully breakout – moments are some of its gooiest: ‘Don’t You Know’, where seismic arrangements breakthrough to swoosh you off your feet, OR the impossibly schmaltzy ‘Court of Love’ and psych-tinged ‘Listen To Your Heart’, which juxtaposes the inventive sounds with well-worn lyrics of devotion and heartbreak.
‘American Love Call’ is a timeless, optimistic listen in a time of peril one that now, and in the future, can confidently be referred to as a truly great American soul record.