When I first heard of Forgive Durden’s sophomore album “Razia’s Shadow,” I was a little skeptical. The concept behind it, conceived by front man Thomas Dutton, was to create a musical. A musical with characters, themes, and narration over thirteen tracks. But as details of its production were released, such as its outstanding line up of guest vocalists, there was no doubt that Dutton was going to make this work. After the first listen, you will realize that if anyone is going to pull off the concept of a musical, it is Forgive Durden. Overall, this album can be described in one word: brilliant.
“Genesis” begins with an instrumental overture. Introducing the ominous narrator, Aaron Weiss of Me Without You. The song begins with a flute and percussion dominated beat, picking up the pace with each chorus. The song has its up and donws, solos featuring both Dutton and The Dear Hunter’s Casey Crescenzo.
A smooth transition is made into “The Missing Piece” by the narration. This is more musical-esque; the typical light-hearted, bubbly love song. Featuring Lizzie Huffman from The Man In The Blue Man, Dutton sings about finding the missing piece to his life. The song fades as the narrator once again makes the transition into the next song. Picking up the pace is “Life Looking Up,” the first single of this musical tale. With violin driven bridges, this song is a nice summary of what to expect from this album.
One of the best tracks of the album is “The Spider And The Lamps,” featuring Max Bemis of Say Anything as the legendary character of the spider. The song starts with a quirky piano intro that soon turns dark and haunting with the introduction of the vocal harmonies and full band. Vocally, this song masterfully dominates the lower range as it introduces one of the main plot points of the story. “Toba The Tura” has a much lighter, slower sound. A nice accompaniment of strings complements guest vocalist Chris Conley of Saves The Day. The vocal harmonies at the end are really well done. “The Oracle” is probably one of my least favorites of the whole record. The light, high ranged vocals seemed forced for both Dutton and guest vocalist Danny Stevens (The Audition). “A Hundred Years, Minute-Long Intermission” does exactly what its title claims. It is a beautiful accapella song, with well crafted harmonies that recount some of the lyrics of “Genesis.”
“The Exit” introduces the second part of the story. This song features label mates Brandon Urie from Panic! At The Disco and Dan Young of This Providence. Musically and vocally, it has its up and downs – which nicely represent the progression of the conflict and the frustration of the characters. “It’s True Love” introduces Greta Salpeter (The Hush Sound) and her character of Princess Anhura. It features nice harmonies complemented by a piano and string dominated song as the two characters sing a Disney-esque love song. “Meet The King” has an extremely quirky, catchy introduction with lower ranged vocals. This slower song features Nic Newsham of Gatsbys American Dream and Salpeter as the characters try to resolve one of the main conflicts of the story. “Holy The Sea” is another slow song mostly dominated by a recurring piano melody. “Doctor Doctor” nicely picks up the pace again with a catchy introduction with a memorable vocal performance by Shawn Harris of The Matches as Doctor Dumaya. The ending piece features Urie and Salpeter again. It provides the explosive finale to this musical.
“Razia’s Shadow” is a musical journey. With an all star cast on guest vocals and such a fresh idea, what is there not to love? Dutton did it again. I do have to warn this is not an album for everyone. It is a little different from “Wonderland” or for anything else in its genre for that matter. But it works. Broadway and rock and roll are nicely complemented into an unforgettable album. To give this record justice, it has to be played from start to finish; purchasing a couple of tracks will not suffice. Do not be skeptical about the concept, give it a try and you’ll be surprised. So sit back, and be prepared to be dazzled.
Cristina Carrazza is the assistant regional head of the Midwest region at Musiqtone.com. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out this feedback form below.