Loveland Duren – Bloody Cupid (Edgewood Records) – review
In this short-attention-span world, an entire album of great tunes is a rare find
Loveland Duren is a collaboration between two legendary Memphis artists – Vicki Loveland and Van Duren, who have just issued their first record, Bloody Cupid. Duren spent time in several bands with various Big Star alums, yet this new project is a lot more earthy than power pop. The entire record has an organic feel; it sounds like it was made the old-fashioned way – with real instruments, and without digital trickery.
Both of them contribute vocals, with Loveland’s powerhouse voice adding an edge to the funky opener, “Crash Landing, which also features some fine guitar work from Jim Duckworth. Duren’s voice is lighter, better suited for the jangly melodic “Lines in the Sand,” which has a great chorus.
Some of the album’s best tracks feature both Duren & Loveland trading off vocals, like “Birthmarks,” where the title of the CD comes from, or “There Goes the Floor,” which features some fantastic harmonies.
What makes the album such a great listen is its diverse textures – the moody “Forgive Me Forgive You” has a lonely honking sax, while the folky “Now Will Do” features tasty dobro, mandolin & violin, and a playful Loveland vocal.
And, the soprano sax-laden “Losing My Mean Streak” is a poignant look at aging, with the words “even though my youth slowly fades away / the child in me still wants to play.”
Some of the best tracks are near the end of the album – “Sins of the Father” has gospel-like backup vocals, Hammond organ, and Loveland’s impassioned delivery – she’s spitting nails on this one. The album closes with Duren’s playful “Kiss Me Slowly,” which harkens back to the songs of the early 1900’s, possibly something that the Gershwins would’ve written.
And, it’s great to see classic art being used for an album cover again. Loveland Duren licensed “The Lovers” by Renee Magritte, the stunning 1928 painting depicts two lovers with sheets over their heads, kissing.
In this singles-driven world, it’s refreshing to hear an entire album of good tunes. Nothing ground-breaking, just two veteran musicians having fun hanging out and making music. —Tony Peters