It’s not widely remembered that George Ezra was 2014’s third best-selling artist, only behind Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith. At 19, he burst onto the scene with his hit release “Budapest” and his first album, Wanted on Voyage. It’s been more than three years since Ezra has graced the public with another album to showcase his rich, deeply intoxicating voice—that is until Staying At Tamara’s. Ezra’s sophomore album may not match the music he put out during his meteoric rise, but Staying at Tamara’s is simultaneously a breath of fresh air and a tonic for the politically anxious.
There is a maturity to Staying at Tamara’s that is evident in the contemplativeness and serenity of the collection as a whole. Ezra brings his signature style to his new album but pushes his musical boundaries with new rhythmic and instrumental styles that enhance and diversify the soul-infused, folksy nature of the tracks. Even the progression of songs is well thought out: the swelling and rolling of emotion perfectly reflect the wave of feeling Ezra is exploring and confronting.
Staying at Tamara’s begins with “Pretty Shining People” which is pleasantly uplifting but also shockingly relevant. The very first lines are: “Me and Sam in the car, talking ‘bout America…I turned to him and said, ‘Man help me out I fear I’m on an island in an ocean full of change.’” Ezra then continues, in his resonant and emotive voice, “What a terrible time to be alive if you’reprone to overthinking.” While some of the lyrics may suggest “Pretty Shining People” to be excessively somber, nothing could be further from the truth. There is positivity amidst the climate of change and anxiety—a theme that is prevalent throughout the album. The song ends with a repetition of “we’re alright together,” against a backdrop of earnest chords and swelling choruses.
“Pretty Shining People” is followed by tracks titled, “Don’t Matter Now,” “Get Away,” “Shotgun,” and “Paradise.” All of these songs explore the attainment of comfort and contentment in stressful times, proving that Staying at Tamara’s does not want to exclusively focus on politics; it also wants to transport the listener to warmer, sunnier times with their loved ones. “Paradise,” one of Ezra’s prior releases, exemplifies this point with its buoyant melody and good natured lyrics.
The final tracks of the album do get progressively more somber, but these songs are arguably even more beautiful. There’s something very stirring and emotionally weathered about Ezra’s voice that suits the wistful moods of “Only Human” and “The Beautiful Dream.” Both of these tracks are stripped of more flashy instrumentals and rely mostly on the simplicity of a lone piano. “Only Human” is the perfect remedy for a dejected soul, as Ezra soothes the listener with the lines, “You can’t blame yourself you’re just human,” and suggests “If it’s a new day, Why don’t we invent a new world to explore?” The album ends on a melancholy note, but this tone is not jarring given the previous tracks—rather it seems more like a logical continuation and a return to a pensive and meditative state of mind.
Given Ezra’s swift rise, Staying at Tamara’s is a consistent and promising success in the young artist’s career. While it may not achieve the commercial fame of Wanted on Voyage, this album is mature, well-thought out, and soothing for the anxious listener—who, thanks to Ezra, will be able to escape the dim of everyday life for just a dreamy moment.