After releasing two EPs, Did You Hear the Rain? and Cassy O’ in November of 2013 and April of 2014 respectively, English singer-songwriter George Ezra rose to fame with his hit single, “Budapest.” The song reached the top 10 in several countries around the world and reached number one in another five.
His debut studio album, Wanted on Voyage, released in June 2014, reached number one in the U.K., was top 10 in seven other countries and was the third best-selling album of 2014 in the U.K. (behind Ed Sheeran’s x and Sam Smith’s In the Lonely Hour).
However, despite the crazy amount of success Ezra has had with his music, I would guess that most of you reading this article haven’t heard of him — although you’ve probably heard “Budapest” or “Blame It on Me” without realizing that it was him that was singing them. In a very thorough piece of research, I asked a bunch of my American friends if they had ever heard of George Ezra.
Aside from one person who knew he was a singer of some kind but couldn’t name any of his songs, I was generally met with blank stares or questions of if he goes to Hopkins. He does not.
My follow up question was then, have you heard “Budapest”? Every single person enthusiastically replied yes and many then followed up by correcting their previous statement of not knowing him.
Even if you’ve listened to “Budapest” or heard about George Ezra, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that you most likely haven’t heard that he recently released a new album, and you almost definitely don’t know just what you’re missing out on by not listening to it.
His new album, Staying at Tamara’s, arrived on March 23 (*fanfare*), four years after his debut album — an album which led to two years on tour, a hilarious music video for “Listen to the Man” featuring the British legend Ian McKellen (seriously, please do yourself a favor and go YouTube the video if you haven’t seen it), four Brit Award nominations, spots opening for Sam Smith and Hozier, and performances on a plethora of late-night shows.
So how do you follow up a debut album that had such incredible success? Well Ezra decided to just disappear for a while. As he joked on the British show The One Show in June 2017, “You kind of have to strike a balance of not getting on people’s nerves and disappearing for a bit, and also working out what you want to write and record. What you want to write about is important.”
The record was written, created and inspired by Ezra’s travels, including time spent on the Isle Of Skye, a pig farm in Norfolk, a former corn flour shed in Kent, a converted cow shed in north Wales and in an Airbnb in Barcelona, owned by Tamara — yes, the Tamara of the album’s title.
Most of the album was written over the course of a month in Barcelona where he stayed with Tamara in her home after finding her online. Unable to write and be creative at home on his couch, he decided to escape to sunny Barcelona, and I think that we can escape with him by listening to this album.
When you listen to “Pretty Shining People” you don’t feel like you’re sitting in Brody studying or walking around on the too-cold-for-Spring streets of Baltimore. You feel like it’s July, and it’s a warm and happy, sunny day.
His voice is gorgeous and rich and deep, and it really lends itself to some of the more upbeat songs in the album, which are sure to become summer hits (at least in the U.K., if not here), such as “Pretty Shining People,” “Don’t Matter Now” (which you might have heard) and “Paradise” (currently sitting on top of the U.K. iTunes charts).
Equally, however, his warm baritone voice leads to some beautifully slow, more mellow songs, such as “The Beautiful Dream” and “Only a Human.” Essentially, there’s not really a song on this album that doesn’t work with any other, and there’s a song on there for any mood.
The varying moods of some of the songs doesn’t mean, however, that the album doesn’t work when you listen to all of the songs consecutively, quite the contrary.
While there are obviously some standout songs, it is clearly an album which a lot of thought has gone into with regards to the songs selected and their order. All the songs flow beautifully into one another, whether you listen to the whole album or just a few songs, in order or on shuffle. Or you could do what I’ve been doing, which is listening to the entire album from start to finish. On repeat. I won’t judge you if you do.