Thursday, January 12, 2012


I've been meaning to write about the new James Durbin CD ever since Santa Boy gave it to me for Christmas, but I've only just stopped singing along long enough to sit down at the keyboard.

Here's the thing about James: he's just as much fun to listen to as he was to watch on American Idol. His debut CD, Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, is a lively collection of heavy rockers, power anthems, and a ballad or two. Its eleven selections are peppered with driving rhythms, insanely infectious refrains, and sweet melodies, all the styles that James sings so well.

Since all the songs are new and unfamiliar to me (no covers), I wasn't sure how much I liked it on the first hearing. I even fretted here and there that the vocals were getting lost in the mix. But approximately 1.8 minutes into my second playing of the CD, I was singing along.

(Here's how my personal rating system works. For movies, it's a woefully inexact science: my tastes are eclectic and even I never know what I'm going to love or hate. But the Jensen-o-meter for music is much more direct; I tend to love a song in exact proportion to how quickly I start chiming in.)

Two cuts from this CD are being promoted as singles, the power ballad "Love Me Bad," and the anthem-like, "Stand Up," both big-beat rockers. (Here's a link to the preview trailer for the upcoming "Stand Up" video.) They're both good, but if it were up to me, I'd be pushing the opening track, "Higher Than Heaven" with its irresistible chorus.

Other highlights, for me, are the percolating "Right Behind You," another big anthem, "Screaming" (a rock manifesto for anyone who's ever felt different and/or bullied), and the wistful, bittersweet ballad, "May" (Art Boy's favorite, the old softie). That haunting "She was just like she was" chorus just kills me!

In time, with a few more recordings under his rat-tail, James Durbin will learn how to have more control over his big voice, and to wield it with even more nuance. But for right now, his singing is raw, gutsy, and heartfelt—which is everything we love about him. Jensen-o-meter rating: 8 (out of 10).

Btw: how completely does James Durbin now belong to the world? The story of his New Year's Eve wedding to longtime soulmate, Heidi Lowe, in the Santa Cruz Mountains (above) was carried by Yahoo News, Rolling Stone, People, TV Guide, and CBS News—to name just a few!

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