Is it inappropriate to disclose, for the sake of honesty, that Vicki Loveland and Van Duren are two of my favorite people on the planet and that I love them both dearly? That I think this is the finest work they’ve done yet as Loveland Duren and it’s only their third album?

Let the facts speak for themselves: 2013’s debut, Bloody Cupid was an eye-opener – a debut that had such polish, precision, emotion and maturity – it was the first time in years I could instantly embrace a piece of music that “spoke to me”. 2016’s Next was born of pain, loss and uncertainty (especially as we headed into a tumultuous political period) and yet, Ms. Loveland and Mr. Duren delivered with clarity, soul and optimism.

Now we’re at what I think is their masterpiece – and that’s not hyperbole. Just a glimpse at the package speaks volumes – they went to great lengths and pains to present something total – visually and aurally. Any Such Thing isn’t just any such thing – it’s the time and focus of two incredibly talented people sharing pieces of themselves. Because that’s what the essence of this album/CD is – a highly personal statement. It’s an album of experiences – shared and those to be had – questions seeking answers and perspective. Wrapped in the musical arrangements, once again, Loveland Duren go straight to the heart and the mind for a definitive 1 – 2 punch. And when you take into account what the planet has lived through for the past year and a half, it’s a miraculous achievement.

I’m not going to give a dissection on each of the songs because I want you to LISTEN to this album in full; I think I would be doing a disservice to the quality of the piece as a whole, but I will give you a roadmap to a few in order to point the way. And keep this in mind: whether it was intended to be or not, there is a linking theme through this collected work – a concept – here – of disconnect, dischord and distance. Case and point number one, “A Place Of No Place”, which was first aired last year. Ballsy and brilliant in a definite Stones-meets-the Memphis Horns way, it’s a personal statement while being a rallying call-to-arms – “…there’s no justifying your motives; your ignorance or your fears; can’t hide behind your scripture; you’ll find no excuses there…” Written during a highly-volatile political period, it also captures the (seemingly) universal anger that everyone felt (or still feels) towards one another, confronting the listener to take stock and think twice. A meaningful set of lyrics that should not be diminished by the absolutely chunky on-the-one pure rock and soul of the melody.

“Within Crying Distance” is, to me, the album’s centerpiece; a moving moment of pain, hope, revelation and cautiously optimistic joy rolled into one. That organ intro is enough to move you to tears; Vicki Loveland’s heart-rending vocal is other-worldy and goes right into you like osmosis and the lyrics are enough for you to feel on their own: “…I could tell there was some sad story; too tender, too soon; to pull it from you…” Just reading those words are enough to send chills up the spine. “Tumbledown Hearts”, which we aired here on MusicTAP recently, is a shining moment in pop mastery – hearing the vocal interplay between Ms. Loveland and the ageless Mr. Duren is a thing of unadulterated beauty – and is THE focal point of what makes them sound so tremendous and timeless. This performance is worthy of being a radio hit (I know – but I’m from another generation) and the guitar solo is one of those “nailed it” moments – economic and tastefully perfect. “Where Are We Going?” is one of those lyrics I wish I’d written – “…not before I tore the page out/About not giving a fuck…” – and Mr. Duren’s voice is as inspired and flawless as ever (by the way, do not miss the backing harmonies)

I’ve given you a mulligan – like I said, I don’t want to hand over the details and have you miss a chance to fall in love with this duo – especially if you haven’t heard Loveland Duren before. Ten songs; a complete gift – visually, sonically, lyrically. And if you’re smart, you’ll get the vinyl, which sounds perfect (I still get a warm feeling from the sound of a needle hitting a freshly-unwrapped L.P.). As the lyrics say, “…If I could find you in that fleeting moment, when the past has let you go, we might have a piece of a chance – but as Hemingway said, ‘ain’t it pretty to think so?'” So do just that – let yourself find Loveland Duren, if you haven’t before. You have the perfect opportunity to do so – and completely fall in love with them.

Any Such Thing will be released on Friday, October 1st, 2021.


By Rob Ross

Rob Ross has been involved in the music industry for over 30 years - as guitarist/singer/songwriter with The Punch Line, freelance journalist, producer, manager and working for independent and major record labels. He resides in Staten Island, New York with his wife and cats; he works out a lot, reads voraciously, loves Big Star, traveling down South and his orange Gretsch. He's pretty groovy!

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