Staying at Tamara's
On George Ezra’s debut album, 2014’s Wanted on Voyage, the British singer-songwriter established in the song “Barcelona” that the Spanish city had a special place in his heart. And so, after wrapping up on touring for his first record at the end of 2016, Ezra found himself back there for a month, taking up residence in a room he found online belonging to a woman called Tamara (hence the name of his 2018 sophomore album, Staying at Tamara’s). This new place gave Ezra a chance to slow down again after the anxiety of a whirlwind few years—both in terms of his career, but also in terms of global politics. After spending time with Tamara’s artist and musician friends, he came up with a record that celebrates the power of connection and collective comforting of one another. The record is made almost entirely with help from Cam Blackwood and Joel Pott, the same team that worked on Ezra’s debut (though he received additional songwriting help on “Shotgun” from a certain Fred Gibson—the man who would eventually be known as Fred again). But in spite of this behind-the-scenes continuity, the occasional, soulful flourishes of darkness from Ezra’s first album are all but nonexistent on Staying at Tamara’s. Ezra’s second record largely teems with a shining (and occasionally glib) optimism, evident from the opening notes of first track “Pretty Shining People,” with its polished production and punchy vocal harmonies. “Shotgun” is undoubtedly the catchiest song—not to mention Ezra’s defining hit, its chorus a cartoony burst of sunshine. Still, the most striking moments of Staying at Tamara’s are when Ezra leans into his love of a more forlorn kind of blues and folk, as on First Aid Kit-featuring “Saviour,” a cinematic number which finds his vocal weaving out like plumes of smoke from a campfire, or the doleful “Only a Human,” a forgiving carpe diem kind of track (“You can run, you can jump, might fuck it up/But you can’t blame yourself, no, you’re just human”) which is lent more potency thanks to Ezra’s striking baritone voice. Replete with a richer timbre of instrumentation than ever, Ezra’s second album gives forth a whimsical, sweet world.