Symphonica (Deluxe Edition) [Live]
Symphonica is a significant document for George Michael fans—it’s the only live album released in his lifetime. That it possesses such polish is a testament to the quality of its creator and unique production. Michael’s vocals were captured across several performances in 2011 and 2012 at London’s Royal Albert Hall, with the lush instrumentation captured at AIR Studios in London and New York’s Legacy Studios (where work was completed with Phil Ramone). The first thing to commend is the tracklist: We get six original Michael compositions (heart-stopping renditions of “A Different Corner” and “Praying for Time” hit particularly hard) and a slate of diverse covers that perfectly capture his charisma—and the extraordinary quality of his voice. There are well-worn standards suddenly elevated by that singular blend of sincerity and mischief, but the real fun’s to be found on the less garlanded covers. Sananda Maitreya’s “Let Her Down Easy” becomes a graceful outpouring of regrets, while the 1976 Elton John song “Idol” feels poignantly autobiographical. Symphonica is moving and sentimental, but Michael’s charm stops the collection from feeling maudlin. It stands as a celebration of a generational talent.