When I introduced you to Loveland Duren and Bloody Cupid in 2013, I’d heard a debut album so strong, so sophisticated and yet soulful that I felt that as a debut, it was as good as gold. I’m happy to report that Vicki Loveland and Van Duren, the two Memphis legends, are back with their sophomore effort, the aptly titled Next. I love the whole presentation – the simple, stark cover, the photo inside and the stripped down technical credits. Where Bloody Cupid was, as I said, sophisticated, colorful and detailed, Next is more stripped down, bare bones or “all meat – no fat”. The playing is tighter than tight; the vibes are strong and the performances are even more confident with gutsy, gritty arrangements. In short, an even greater triumph than before.
“Not Allowed In The House Anymore” kicks things off with a socio-political lyrical observation, a hearty, punchy vocal from Vicki Loveland (easily one of my favorite voices around), some beefy horns and clean, crisp guitars. First track out of the gate sets the table perfectly; “Johnny Boy” has been aired previously, but is no less lovely in its painful narrative about the passings of John Fry and John Hampton at the end of 2014 – a song like this is how we should all be lucky enough to be remembered and “Tears In The Air” with its heart-rending string arrangements and the vocal performances, first by Mr. Duren, then joined by Ms. Loveland are one of (if not) the finest, most powerful deliveries between their two releases – certainly on the break, Ms. Loveland reaches an emotional height that leaves you speechless – at the same time, Mr. Duren’s vocal is impassioned and gripping. “Baby Let’s Rent” is bouncy, joyful and has some of the best guitar tracks I’ve heard as of late – two sparkling melody lines wrapped together; “Tight Slacks” is the rocker duet with that definitive Memphis feel and is the perfect way to close this collection.
I’ll make it very clear here and now – if you missed Bloody Cupid – your fault. Do not miss this album or let it pass you by. Get Next – let it take its place in your head and let it dissolve into your mind and bloodstream. Then go back and correct the injustice by picking up Bloody Cupid. Because Loveland Duren are a national treasure. I just want you all to know it – because I’m right. So check out Next. And when you do – TURN IT UP.
Next is available now