With the recent success in the United States of soulful male leads like Hozier and Ben Howard, many listeners have predicted and encouraged the popularity of George Ezra’s recent US release of “Wanted on Voyage.” The young singer-songwriter has one of the most distinct voices in music today and there is no denying his talent. Normally, new artists are not able to establish and master their sound with their first release, and sadly George Ezra is no exception. While the vocals are without a doubt the best part of the album, the downfalls of “Wanted on Voyage“ are the disappointingly-simple lyrics and instrumentals that make the album drag on.
The album begins very strong due to the fact that the best songs are the first four. “Blame it On Me” is a fun song, exemplifying George Ezra’s youth and innocence. It is a great start for the listener and it leads into the most popular song on the album, “Budapest.” Hitting number one in numerous countries, “Budapest” is the song that establishes George Ezra as an artist. The instrumentals in this song are the best on the album and, combined with Ezra’s unique vocals, its no wonder why this song has had so much success. Following this hit is “Cassy O,” another substantial song on the album. It is rambunctious and powerful and more comparable to artists with large ensembles like Mumford and Sons rather than a solo artist. “Cassy O,” hands down, is the stand out track on the album and is a pleasant surprise for the listener. “Barcelona” is another memorable song. It’s the first slow-paced track that showcases Ezra’s voice in a different setting than the first three playful songs.
Unfortunately, after the first four tracks, the album begins to lose its charm. The next few songs are remarkably unmemorable and all sound similar. The next song to evoke a response is “Stand by Your Gun,” but it’s memorable for the wrong reasons. The instrumentals are unlike any other track on the album and sound like something composed by a ten year-old in their first few weeks of music lessons. It pulls the listener out of the mundane past few tracks, but is not a substantial or pleasant song to listen to at all. If there were any track to remove from the album, “Stand by Your Gun” would be the one.
But, the last savior of “Wanted on Voyage” is the song “Breakaway.” Like “Barcelona,” it is one of the slower songs on the album and has some of the most meaningful lyrics. “Breakaway” is an example of how delightful it can be when the lyrics match the mastery and complexity of Ezra’s voice.
Essentially, “Wanted on Voyage” is a twelve-track album that should have had no more than eight. The fillers in the middle and the jarring instrumentals of “Stand by Your Gun” were disappointing. For a debut album, George Ezra established himself as one of the best new male vocalists, but his potential isn’t fully realized. I give this album three stars.
Photo courtesy of sosogay.co.uk