James Durbin gives us a reason to listen to metal

On American Idol Season 10, James Durbin was the contestant you just could not root against.

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”

Grade: B-

Other reviews:

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.


11 Responses to “James Durbin gives us a reason to listen to metal”

  1. Ellie G. says:

    Nice write up, review, thanks! Of course, I’d give the album an A-/B+ for a debut album. It’s just a brilliant collection of songs perfectly suited for James amazing vocals and inspirational delivery, not to mention his moving story. Can totally hear influence of Beatles, Aerosmith, MCR, 30STM, and obviously some great 80s metal. If he’d had more time to write more on his own, with his own band, it would probably get an A from me, but he’s still developing his sound and his band. But if this is just the beginning, bring it on,James! Can’t wait for more!

  2. monica says:

    James is amazing,The Album MOABD is wonderful. Everyone to buy the album of James is great.

  3. Alex says:

    “It’s unlikely to rank among classic Idol CDs.”

    Well it really should, IMO it’s not getting the recognition it deserves, it’s the most legit rock album ever released by an Idol. Sales alone shouldn’t determine an album’s quality. Bieber sells millions yet he has no talent and his music is sh*t.

  4. Lisa Davis says:

    Thanks for the excellent review of James Durbin’s new album Memories Of A Beautiful Disaster. He did get his part on the album done in record time and still it has the quality of albums that have taken much longer and has a taste for every musical pallet. It is James singing with all the passion and heart that he demonstrated on idol and what he will do in the future. Looking forward to hearing what his next album is like. I rate this album a 10 for the effort that James Durbin obviously put into it.

  5. Barbara G Norine says:

    I don’t think this album is the whole indication of James’ real ability. His musical genius is a God given-talent he has not even begun to unleash at the young age of 22 even though he has a much older soul. I was totally amazed with the diversification of the album. He somehow managed to put something for everyone on this album which is not an easy feat and deliver the songs with unbelievable musical talent, tone and vocals. He is a musical genius as far as I am concerned and would have given him at least a B+ if not an A- but you wrote a good article.

  6. Eliza says:

    finally, a reviewer who gives the durbin’s album credit where it belongs in the first place – solid rock songs with fresh and highly unusual combination of heavy grind & beat and catchy tunes, versatility in song styles, structures and rhythms… the most beautiful rock vocals since bach maybe or even prior to…and durbin’s involved participation in making and singing the songs… if you just think about it a little, all that mix is a hard job to pull off for any seasoned musician, especially in this deceptively easy looking fun form… durbin does it all and pulls it off more than successfully… all this points to a rare musical talent that we know is only making his first steps… excellent job, james!!! and thank you for the review that points audiences in the right direction!!!

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