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.