When George Ezra burst onto the scene in 2014 with his debut album Wanted on Voyage, it catapulted him into the mainstream. Featuring massive tracks such as ‘Budapest’ and ‘Don’t Blame It on Me’, it was a stunning album with raw production that set him apart from contemporaries. The album was hugely successful, and it got people wondering where he’d go from there. He relocated to Barcelona and recorded his recent album ‘Staying at Tamara’s.’
What is noticeable, particularly on the opening tracks of the album, is that, similar to Ed Sheeran on his last album ÷, there is an overwhelming amount of positivity. While this appeals to a range of people, it sounds like the soundtrack for every barbecue in the UK. The opening two tracks, ‘Pretty Shining People’ and ‘Don’t Matter Now’ see an upbeat side to Ezra, enhanced by the huge gospel-style choruses. The former references mental health as Ezra croons: “Why why what a terrible time to be alive if you’re prone to overthinking.” On the latter track, he talks about being in a new place, with some introspective lyrics focusing on the positive things in life. It feels uninspired and lacks sincerity, but the trumpets in the chorus save the song.
By this point, you sense that in comparison to Wanted on Voyage, Staying at Tamara’s is an upbeat happy album with mixed results. Lyrically, ‘Shotgun’ continues this journey, riding in the front seat in a sunny country. The funky bassline and jaunty rhythm could be a homage to ‘You Can Call Me Al’ by Paul Simon.
‘Paradise’ is another song that could be reminiscent of a car journey; the rhythm keeping pace with the sunny guitar and massive chorus. However look closer at the album as a whole, and there are chilled out introspective moments that work superbly. An example of this is ‘Sugarcoat’ which shows off his guitar work really nicely. ‘Saviour’, a collaboration with First Aid Kit demonstrates some strong harmonies in a passionate vocal performance. It is great to see that Ezra has not strayed too far from his roots.
Only Human’ ends the album on an introspective note; Ezra using his baritone vocal range successfully as he accepts his mistakes and flaws: “You can run, you can jump/might fuck it up/ No you can’t blame yourself, you’re just human.” The saxophone in the background adds to the ambient atmosphere.
Staying at Tamara’s shows two sides to Ezra: The overbearingly positive first half, and if you listen closely, the more relaxed second half, which works very well because he lays bare his insecurities and vulnerabilities. While it’s not a perfect album, it has some tender moments which are worth your time.
Words by Ermis Madikopoulos