- 04 Aug 21
Groove Is In This Art
2019’s essential American Love Call was a bit of a quantum leap forward from their promising if uneven debut and, on top of that, drummer Aaron Frazer has already delivered one of the albums of the year with his solo Introducing… so hopes were high for Private Space, the third Mr Jones and The Indications record. If they felt under any pressure to deliver, it doesn’t show as these soul scholars successfully delve again into the history of the music and come back up with cuts more than fit to carry on the tradition.
There’s a closer eye on the club this time around – albeit a better club than I’ve ever been allowed in to. ‘Witchoo’ would have the most fervent seat hugger up rug cutting, and they’d stay at it for the Chic-do-Off The Wall ‘The Way That I Do’ and the bass and congas of ‘Sea Of Love’, which cops a feel in the verses of Luther Vandross’ immortal ‘Never Too Much’.
They’ve got dancing of a more horizontal nature in mind during ‘Ride or Die’ – a rather extreme ultimatum, perhaps – and ‘More Than Ever’, which both call to mind the bedroom soul of The Isley Brothers or Isaac Hayes attempting an unexpected falsetto. And talking of Black Moses, you half expect his voice to tell you what time it is when the first few bars of ‘I Can See’ start playing, but Frazer’s sweet voice takes it somewhere else instead.
If this sounds like there’s not much going on lyrically, that’s just not the case. ‘Love Will Work It Out’ in particular far from ignores what’s been happening in the world these last two years, looking back on playing live which now seems “so very long ago” while also mourning those who have been lost, “folks overtaken by disease”, and pointing at “modern day lynchings in the street.” The trick is to wrap all this reflection in a silky smooth, rolling slice of irresistible soul, and if that’s a xylophone about halfway through, then my hat is all the way off. They’re also right on the money when they promise that “joy will set us free.”
The title of ‘Sexy Thang’ might betray an approaching deadline – compared to everything else here, it’s a slight song, but the toe will still be tapping - but there’s no arguing with the sweet Philly sound of the title track or any of these other songs either. The aforementioned ‘I Can See’ promises “a brighter day” and the groovy as all get out Private Space provides the perfect soundtrack for it.