I mean, he had a compelling back-story. He had overcome Asperger and Tourette syndromes. He had a young son named Hunter he could barely keep in diapers.
But he wasn’t just a good back-story. He had the vocal talent and the showmanship to merit a spot in the Idol finals.
And he was pretty darn likable to boot. At one point, the rocker looked right into the Idol camera and begged fans to just “give metal a chance.”
Now that his debut album is out, he’s given fans at least a good reason to listen.
“Memories of a Beautiful Disaster” hit stores last week. It’s unlikely to rank among classic Idol CDs. It might struggle to gain attention during a holiday season absolutely cluttered by new releases.
But it’s also a solid debut album, unlikely to disappoint Durbinrock fans.
Want rock songs with pop-friendly hooks? They’re here, including album starter “Higher Than Heaven” and lead single “Love Me Bad.”
Want rousing guitar solos? They’re here, including a guest stint by Motley Crue’s Mick Mars on “Outcast.”
The best news is that James sounds even better than he did on Idol.
Want proof? Just listen to the ballad “May” in the album’s number-seven slot.
It helps that James doesn’t feel the need to unleash the Durbin shriek on every track. Though I must say, my favorite song on the album is an anthem to underdogs called “Screaming,” complete with a co-writing credit to season seven Idol winner David Cook.
Oh, James also deserves kudos for having writing credits on four of the album’s 11 base tracks (the deluxe version comes with two extras). That’s compared to one co-write combined by Idol finalists Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina on their debuts.
Yep, James, you’ve given us a good reason to listen.
Download worthy: “Higher Than Heaven,” “Screaming,” “May”
AllMusic.com: Gives James 3 stars out of 5.
And if you haven’t seen this yet, check out James’ interview with US Weekly, where he talks about the rationale behind the album’s name, his upcoming New Year’s Eve wedding to longtime girlfriend Heidi Lowe and the song on the album that she inspired.