Staying at Tamara’s album review

Columbia Records

Everyone remembers the song “Budapest,” right? George Ezra debuted the song on his album Wanted on Voyage (2015), and most people were humming it for the majority of 2015. Now, after three years, Ezra has finally released a new album, Staying at Tamara’s. Because “Budapest” has been Ezra’s only mainstream hit to date, I was fearful that this album was going to be a collection of songs that sounded eerily similar to the only song people have paid attention to in his career. To my surprise and delight, it wasn’t.

By no means has Ezra completely left behind his genre or staple folk and indie rock sound; everything on Staying at Tamara’s still sounds like his music, but that does not mean that he has not progressed as a singer and songwriter. Part of that progression, I think, led to two distinct parts in the album.

The first five songs are driven by clean electric guitar and bass, and their indie-pop-funk fusion melodies are infectious. The guitar parts are littered with syncopation, the bass lines and drum parts–though simple–create a full base to the music, and the vocals and occasional horn melodies all morph into one groove. If there was ever a set of songs that really reminded me of summer, it would be these.

At song six, the album shifts. The songs become airy and filled with reflective and endearing lyrics. Most of this half are love songs in which Ezra sings about his relationship and emotions towards some unnamed girl. He rather cleverly mimics the tone of the lyrics with the style of the music. Ezra switches from the heavily syncopated guitar parts to overlaying guitar vamps with melodies as well as switching from a full drum kit to simpler, acoustic percussion. While these two musical themes of the album are seemingly polar, Ezra’s full baritone voice acts as the backbone for both.

Of course, the music is only half of the album. I am not going to say they are profound or enlightening or grand in any way, but the lyrics that accompany this album are human. Most of what Ezra sings about is incredibly relatable whether it be his fear of the future, uncertainty in a relationship or just wanting to escape from pressures of life. In a music industry where lyricism is not emphasized, I am glad to hear relatable and genuine lyrics. There is nothing deep or philosophical or complex, simply Ezra being a human being.

The music and lyrics come together best in “Shotgun.” Admittedly, this song sounds like a pop track. But its bass-guitar driven groove offers a fresh sound that makes it unbelievably catchy, and the lyrics that talk about being somewhere where the days fly by under the sun make me look forward to summer more and more everyday.

Following a hit song or album is always hard to do, but I think Ezra has done that successfully with Staying at Tamara’s. The album shows a lot of musical diversity and maturity as an artist and has memorable songs. This is definitely an album to listen to and look out for in the coming months.

The Pathfinder gives “Staying at Tamara’s” a 9.8/10.