American Idol alumni and singer/songwriter James Durbin has finally released his long awaited third studio album titled Riot On Sunset on July 15th. When we interviewed Durbin for our May issue, he had described how he was really able to take his time on this record and a few of the songs were written years ago. It is plain to see that having the creative freedom made all the difference and allowed him to be true to himself and to his music. Riot On Sunset also gave Durbin the chance to really let fans become involved in the process through his Pledge Music crowdfunding campaign. After the lack of recognition with his previous album Celebrate which was released in 2012, Durbin’s gratitude on the participation of his fans and his community are no secret. “I believe in this music so it is amazing to know that other people do as well” Durbin said during our interview.
Title track Riot On Sunset starts the album out with an acoustic flavor. Durbin’s melodic tone is both heartfelt and in sync with his softer side. Flowing into Durbin’s signature power vocals and a catchy sing along chorus, it is transparent that Durbin has grown a lot since his previous two albums. City Of Nightmares takes it up a few notches with its anthem-esque vibe and its progressive style.
Beautiful showcases Durbin’s voice the most out of any track on this album. His sultry and expansive range are impressive and most notable high range that Durbin takes up to the top and back down again. The guitar solo is phenomenal in its own right and hands down puts this track as the stand out song on the album. Scratchers n Cheap Beer which features Casey Abrams is as much fun as the title implies. Naturally, Smackdown which was the first single that was released from this album is the highlight of the album and is everything that has attracted fans to Durbin since the Idol days. We Are The Unknown’s inspiring lyrics and classic guitar solo truly showcase more of Durbin’s raw, natural instinct and flair.
Overall, the album is a cocktail of Durbin’s signature sound with a few shots of Green Day that makes for his best and most memorable album to date. Knowing that Durbin had ultimate freedom on this record and wrote the songs over the span of his life, Riot On Sunset is a breath of fresh air and it is a true testament to the passion and heart that Durbin possesses, not only in his songwriting but in his musicianship as well.