After shooting straight to fame with 2014’s Wanted On Voyage – more specifically with ‘Budapest’ – the question was whether George Ezra was more than a one summer hit wonder. The answer came with Staying at Tamara’s, a second album good enough to reach the No. 1 spot in the UK, and the eighth spot in The Edge‘s Top Albums of 2018: George Ezra is at least a two summer hits’ wonder.
Living up to a stellar a debut as Wanted On Voyage was no easy feat. Ezra took his time, and returned to the music stage after four years with the same sound, featuring catchy choruses, guitar chords perfect for swinging around, and, last but not least, Ezra’s deep baritone voice. Even if it’s not a groundbreaking evolution, the 25-year-old follows a recipe that’s been known to have perfectly good results before: don’t fix what’s not broken.
Staying at Tamara’s is a journey through the artist’s journey through life, love and the world. Thoughtful lyrics accompany the eclectic instrumental mix into a combination that begs to soundtrack your next summer roadtrip. But don’t let yourself be fooled by the lighthearted, upbeat sound. Even if the album includes a few soft love songs such as ‘The Beautiful Dream’, ‘Paradise‘, ‘All My Love’, and ‘Sugarcoat’ – all displaying a quality of instrumental arrangement that is hard to come by in mainstream music, lovely lyrics and Ezra’s voice at top form – Staying at Tamara’s is more than just musically pleasing; it’s a nuanced, complex record.
From opener ‘Pretty Shining People’ to ‘Get Away’ and ‘Don’t Matter Now’, the album tells the story of Ezra’s struggles with anxiety, overthinking, and how he dealt with them by travelling and spending time alone. The gem of the set is the ultimate travel song and arguably this summer’s biggest hit, ‘Shotgun’ to encapsulate both Ezra’s sound and his positive outlook on life and its downfalls – when it all gets a bit much, just hit the road. ‘Hold My Girl’ and ‘Only a Human’ add even more nuance to the mix, both about looking after oneself and the loved ones during the darker times; a strong message for which Ezra slows down his guitar strumming for a more laid-back sound. ‘Saviour’, the only collaboration on the album, doesn’t fully belong in any of the categories. Featuring First Aid Kit’s soothing vocals, a beautiful mix of guitars and drums, and some of the album’s most ambiguous yet beautiful lyrics, ‘Saviour’ is Staying at Tamara‘s most wonderful undiscovered gem and my personal favourite (to give you an idea, I was so obsessed with this song I listened to it for two days on end).
Staying at Tamara‘s may not be musically groundbreaking, but it’s a wonderfully complex album about an artist’s journey. It packs a punch of ballads, summer roadtrip hits, lyrically thoughtful songs, as well as George Ezra’s signature sound. It’s top notch pop music, and more than worthy of the eighth spot in our Top Albums of the Year.
Staying At Tamara’s was released on 23rd March via Sony Music.