Staying at Tamara's

by George Ezra

One single was all it took to take singer songwriter George Ezra from being a nobody with a guitar to becoming an international star. The song was, of course, the humdinger ‘Budapest’. Due to its success, Ezra also managed a number one album, which wasn’t too shabby for his debut.

That was four years ago, which is like dog years in the pop world. So the so-called tricky second album could be made a whole lot trickier considering how long it’s taken to get here. But one thing that this artist doesn’t lack is confidence. It also does no harm that he’s quite the talent.

His distinctive deep-throated vocals kick in from the off with ‘Pretty Shining People’. Within it, lays the kind of hook that draws you in without thinking, and before you know it, you’re bellowing it from the top of your lungs without a care in the world.

Match Ezra’s vocals with some shiny brass and you’ve got a marriage in heaven. ‘Don’t Matter Now’ is a laid back affair, with Ezra’s voice drizzling over the instrumental business like warm treacle.

boom - George Ezra - Staying at Tamara's image

‘Get Away’ is a distant relative, once removed, of Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’, with a hint of the African plains, with the odd giraffe or three. It’s bouncy fun from start to finish.

But wait, wasn’t the last track supposed to sound a bit like ‘Graceland’? Then how come ‘Shotgun’ does too? No matter, it’s still a landscape that is warm and welcoming, with yet another catchy chorus that you’ll want to sing along to.

And then there’s ‘Paradise’, a single that epitomizes Ezra’s sound to a tee. It’s bold, big, with production just on the right side of being busy. Sure it sounds a bit like ‘All These Things That I’ve Done’ by The Killers in the middle, but there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a joyous anthem that begs to be heard on the radio.

Ezra slips into a slower gear with ‘All my Love’, a track that clearly pays homage to classic soul songs of the fifties. It’s certainly another groove to Ezra’s already extensive bow.

There’s a gooey warmth that exudes from ‘Sugarcoat’, where Ezra tells his love that he doesn’t want to go outside, not when he has her by his side. Bless. But then that’s just something guys say when they want to stay in and play FIFA on the old Xbox. You can’t beat that loving sentiment though.

The ballad ‘Hold My Girl’ is another fine showcase for Ezra’s talents as a songwriter and performer. With a delicate arrangement, the song builds ever so slowly, into something fairly substantial, all along being controlled by a strong and stable voice, acting as a beacon to follow throughout.

boom reviews George Ezra - Staying at Tamara's

‘Saviour’ is one of the more complex tracks on the album, featuring some help from First Aid Kit on backing vocal duties. It has a dusty western vibe about it, even including some clippity cloppy horse trots too. It has a darker tone than most on the album, which is a welcome addition.

Stripping things back on the production front comes ‘Only a Human’. Ezra’s vocals are joined by a guitar and a piano, with both letting him take the lead. It’s the voice that stands out though, as it cuts through the production like a strong breeze on a summer’s day.

With all other tracks coming in at less than four minutes, ‘The Beautiful Dream’, the last song on the album, is also the longest at 4.30. Again, Ezra’s unique voice takes centre stage, with everything else just noise in the background. It lacks the kind of direction that the rest of the album enjoys, wafting about as it does, making it a pleasant sensation, rather than an outstanding one.

boom reviews George Ezra- Staying at Tamara's

George Ezra is similar to the all conquering Ed Sheeran in that he comes across as a thoroughly decent chap. His advantage however, is that his style of music is less bland than Sheeran’s and far more enjoyable to listen to. He certainly has a stronger voice.

Where this second album suffers somewhat is with its unremarkable production. It’s all a little too pristine and by the books, with nothing in the way of surprises. With a bit more imagination, it could have really shined, which is what will hopefully happen with the less tricky third album. Let’s just hope it doesn’t take as long as this one did to come to fruition.

As far as Staying at Tamara’s is concerned, it’s more a statement of intent than a truly awesome collection of songs. Nice songs admittedly, but just short of a kind of greatness that doesn’t appear that far out of reach.

three out of five