March 20, 2018 George Ezra – Staying At Tamara’s (Album Review)
In an oversaturated market, it is hard to find remarkable talent, especially one that can keep a listener on his/her toes. A combination of genres is hard to do, and exceptionally well at that, but George Ezra strikes a gold medal with his upcoming Folk Pop release Staying at Tamara’s, which will arrive Friday, March 23, 2018, via Columbia Records.
George Ezra has quickly become a household name since his debut in 2014 with his hit single “Budapest.” His first LP, Wanted On Voyage, sold over three-million copies while Ezra toured the world for two years non-stop, tagging along with artists like Sam Smith and Hozier. Upon the return of his worldwide journey, the English singer-songwriter found himself drained from the constant ‘go’ of it all. “And then you’re spat out the other end. Your friends are at work Monday to Friday, so you are waiting for them to finish so you can go the pub. But they’re going to the pub to have two pints after a day’s work, and that’s fine. It’s a reward. But doing that when you’ve done fuck-all all day really gets you down after a while… I do appreciate that that sounds a bit too pop-star-woe-is-me!”
They say growth is found when one pushes themselves out of their comfort zone. The 24-year old grabbed his guitar and headed to Barcelona, which greatly turned things around for Ezra. “It just turned out to be the best experience I could have asked for,” he said about his Airbnb experience. Within the time spent there, Ezra reconnected with himself and found a new drive and inspiration that had diminished over the previous years. The stories from the experience unravel onto what is now Staying at Tamara’s.
The 11-track playlist begins with “Pretty Shining People,” a bubbly track that falls along the lines of Paramore’s “Fake Happy.” Slightly cynical lyrics drive the mood while the bubbly sound shapes the overall track. Ezra’s deep vocals wholesomely fill the silence and are soon joined by mesmerizing plucking of an acoustic guitar. Booties are guaranteed to shake by the time the chorus comes around, growing in a combination of heavy bass and tambourine.
“Don’t Matter Now” may honorably be recognized as the first single off the record. The track starts with a retro sound, muffled in the shadows, and maracas shake before the music comes in full front. The sing-a-long paints an image of being free while containing great relatability. Ezra speaks about what truly matters to him, despite the unpopular opinion. “I never understand it when peers of mine feel compelled to tweet ‘RIP’ for every celebrity that passes, or ‘my heart goes out to…’ in response to every world event. It’s sweet but futile. You can have empathy and compassion without needing to advertise it. And this need to comment on everything all the time? It’s not what I’m here for, in the public context, and in the context of my songwriting.” The single transmits his take of meaning behind it and emits a ‘full of life’ feeling, which remains strong throughout the entire album.
“Get Away” is a song that listeners can go to town on with their hairbrush and wildly dance to in his/her room. The exuberant track tries to put out the dreamer through the waves on anxiety. The fun doesn’t stop with Ezra’s fast-paced rhythm, which shares similar sounds to The Black Keys and/or Cage The Elephant. Gritty bass compliments the snapping that eases in, as well as Ezra’s lovely short runs in his voice. Overall, the song is striking like a bolt of lightening.
One song that can be predicted as a fan favorite and perfect summer road trip track is “Shotgun.” Though the piece is a little more horn heavy, the strutting rhythm is fun to move along to. Uncommon sounds used create a refreshing and unique experience for the listener, finding a new layer after each listener. This sing-a-long is on fire; the verses does not prepare the listener for the thickness of the chorus. Horns build up the bridge into a continued dance party throughout the last chorus, fading into a composition of different horns. The combinations of sounds used is refreshing and unique.
Heartfelt numbers like “All My Love” and “Hold My Girl” display a more sensitive and affectionate side to the singer-songwriter. “All My Love” is such a simple and sweet track, stripped down to a tambourine, bass, and Ezra’s vocals to start, before slowly transitioning into twangy electric guitar and a full band, carrying a great compositional balance. “Hold My Girl” holds a sad undertone, but contains the most passion throughout the entire record. The heavy grand piano and violin are guaranteed to capture listener’s hearts.
The thumping sound of a drum in “Saviour” combines with sweet guitar, drawing similarities to Johnny Cash’s “Walk The Line.” Tension builds throughout the track as First Aid Kit’s voice cries out against Ezra’s soothing vocals. Passion grows as the listener nears the end of the record, ending with track “The Beautiful Dream.” The eerie yet oddly comforting track can be declared a respectable closer for the album. Though the tone is a bit somber, the keys and synths floating in the background create a heaven-like picture. A reassuring female voice whispers “When you wake up, I’ll be around,” and this provides a satisfying comfort to the subtle ending. This dream-like state completes the album in a recharging, reflective view.
The balance between lyricism and composition is exceptional with Staying At Tamara’s. George Ezra delivers a fresh take on what it truly means to be an artist and himself. There is not a single track that falls out of place, and this is truly a playlist that flows well from start to finish. This record was definitely worth the wait! For these reasons, CrypticRock gives George Ezra’s Staying at Tamara’s a 5 out of 5 stars.