Loveland Duren – Next (review)

Loveland Duren – Next (Edgewood Recordings)

Memphis duo returns with sophomore record

Vicki Loveland and Van Duren teamed up for one of our favorite albums of 2013, called Bloody Cupid (read that review here). Now, they return with album number two, appropriately titled Next, and it’s every bit as good as their first one.

For the followup, the pair decided to record at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis. The result is an album that is more immediate, and a little less polished than their debut. The disc opens with “Not Allowed in the House Anymore,” with lyrics like “another false prophet talking trash” and “Adam & Eve rode dinosaurs,” it successfully captures the political mood and paranoid revisionism currently happening in our country. The horns on the chorus remind me of the great David Bowie records, while the flugelhorn solo by Marc Franklin is very nice.

Things quickly shift for the jazzy “Smudge,” with vocals by Duren and excellent sax by Jim Spake. “Baby Let’s Rent” is another great song aimed at adults, with Loveland singing about the absurdity of technology and how it can fix everything except love (the tremelo guitar here is quite tasty).

Once again, the real highlights are when both Loveland and Duren are singing together – their harmonies blend seamlessly on the jangly “Perfectly Wrong,” or on poignant “Johnny Boy,” a eulogy for two stalwarts of the Memphis music scene (which we documented here).

As in their previous release, they’ve saved the best for near the end – “Out of the Cage,” with it’s excellent slide guitar and minor chords, has a decidedly Allman Brothers’ feel. The guitars are echoed and raw as Loveland pleads “don’t waste another day / come out in the daylight.” It’s one of the best songs the duo has ever put together.

The disc closes with “Tight Slacks,” rough-edged, it sounds like a lost Faces’ track, with Rhodes’ piano and a multi-layered, blistering guitar solo from Adam Hill, who also helped record the album.

Loveland has one of those lived-in voices that makes you stand up and want to listen to whatever she has to say. She’s not breaking glass or dancing around the notes, just singing. Loveland Duren is refreshing because so little of music today is actually aimed at adults. If you’re trying to decide what to listen to next, I say “Next.”

—Tony Peters