Personnel: Durand Jones (vocals); Blake Rhein (guitar); Christian Allmendinger (trumpet); Justin Hubler (electric piano, organ).
Photographer: Cheyenne Raduha.
Durand Jones hadn't the intent to front a retro-soul band when he moved from the Deep South to the Midwest. Back home in Louisiana, he had wowed fellow parishioners with his voice, but he had become an accomplished saxophonist and enrolled in a postgraduate music program at Indiana University. While playing with a shorthanded I.U. Soul Revue, he sang again at the band director's urging and met the musicians with whom he formed Durand Jones & the Indications. They started at a basement gig with Otis Redding covers, opted to forge ahead with original material, and found a home with Columbus, Ohio's Colemine label. Their recorded debut was made with a 7" single consisting of the despairing belter "Smile" and the plump, somewhat Meters-like instrumental "Tuck 'n' Roll." Those two sides make up one quarter of the quintet's self-titled album. Hard grooves and aching ballads are handled in similarly precise and scholarly fashion, like the musicians are familiar with all tiers of mid- to late-'60s R&B, from the hits to the obscurities, whether they were released by Stax or unearthed by Numero. There's an appealing everyman quality to Jones, a skilled and poised vocalist who can project an extreme emotion without overexertion. Falsetto-equipped drummer Aaron Frazer takes a turn on the second side with "Is It Any Wonder," a ballad angling for placement on a Lowrider Oldies compilation. That song provides a sweet contrast to the Jones showcases and pushes the band in a northerly direction with a sound closer to Smokey Robinson & the Miracles or the Whatnauts. They've got this stuff down. On to the psychedelic phase, right? ~ Andy Kellman