George Ezra looks young but sounds old


Eric Casey, Staff Writer

Do you know that awkwardness of listening to someone on the radio, and then when you search for them on the internet they look nothing like you imagined? Well, that probably happens more often than not with upcoming British folk artist George Ezra.

Around the middle of last year iTunes released a free song called “Budapest.” After listening to the one minute sample I downloaded it instantly. I couldn’t help listening to the song over and over. Then, when I searched for this mysterious singer I couldn’t believe what I found.

George Ezra had amazing clean cut handsome looks with that blonde hair and blue eyes. He looked like the nice guy in high school. There was no way a ’50s-esque, rough, and seasoned voice could be coming out of such a body?

Apparently I wasn’t the only one. My friend Maria was equally stunned to hear him before seeing what he looked like. Anyway, the point is that sounds can be misleading! It was a pleasant reminder to other artists like Amy Winehouse, Jake Bugg, and maybe even John Newman who just don’t look like what you imagine upon hearing their songs.

Singer-songwriter George Ezra has been steadily gaining recognition. Just this past week it was announced he will be VH1’s “You Outta Know Artist” of the month for February. Currently, he is nominated for 4 Brit Awards including Breakthrough Act, British Male Solo Artist, Single of the Year, and Album of the Year. He also performed at the 2014 BBC Music Awards in December.

Here in the states there seems to be a British male invasion that has only been increasing. Ed Sheeran being the most successful thus far, followed closely by Sam Smith. All of whom are up for Grammy nominations this year. George Ezra, who is heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie, seems to be on the brink of major success in America.

In 2013 and 2014 he performed on the “BBC Introducing Stage” at Glastonbury Festival, one of the largest festivals in the world. His stage presence appears down-to-earth just like his off stage humble personality. In some interviews he has stated that he enjoys coming home to visit family and friends. His sister is his assistant on tours, and he had also requested that his face not be shown on his album cover. However, you can see his face appearing out of a crowd, which is most of his friends.

On his youtube channel he makes tour diaries and talks about his inspirations for writing his debut album “Wanted on Voyage.” Early last year he started a unique tour of sorts called the “Ezra Express.” This trip he embarked on started at Bristol and ended in Budapest. It was a train ride through Europe where some fans came along with him as he stopped for mini concerts along the way.

It was similar to a month long trip he made by himself just before writing his debut album. In an interview with he says “I kinda came home and wrote songs from what I’ve seen, and I think about 70% of the album came from that trip. However, it was the Hungarian capital of Budapest that he didn’t reach on his first trip.

Oh, and that scar on his upper right brow? In the London Evening Standard, it was mentioned that it came after a drunken night when he slammed into a wall, but refused to go to the hospital because Marky Ramone was visiting his University the following day. His lecturer sent him to the hospital during the day, but it was too late for stitches because the damage had been done.

In regards to his UK hit song, which peaked at #3 last year, he doesn’t seem phased by ultra stardom and is aware of short attention spans among listeners. “I’m aware that music is consumed in a way now that means things don’t have the same opportunities to last.

In a recent NPR interview he said, “I always say, if this is the only album I get to release, so be it. I’ve had the best time,” Ezra says. “I’ll continue writing and creating. If people get to hear it, then that’s amazing. I don’t want people to think that I don’t love this; I do.” If I can sit here when I’m 60 and talking about my 15th, 20th record, well, happy days, I’d love that. But we’ll see.”

Speaking of happy days, Ezra’s song is # on the Billboard Hot 100 this week with Gold certified “Budapest.” The song has also gone to #1 on the Alternative Songs chart, #10 on the Hot Rock Songs chart, and #26 on the US Adult Top 40 chart. His album debuted at #1 in the UK last June and went Top 10 in many other countries. Here in the US it debuted at # last week with copies sold.

The album consists of some fast paced songs like “Blame It on Me” which has peaked at #6 on the UK Singles Chart. “What you waiting for?” is a lyric repeated throughout the song and feels like a motivation to just go out and do it even if you have be alone to get it done. Which is something that seems to represent the whole album.

Cassy O’” is a great foot stomper that sounds like it came from the early ’60s. Another personal and probably fan favorite is “Listen to the Man.” The music video features legendary actor Sir Ian McKellan lip synching to the happy tune. One of his first songs written, “Did You Hear the Rain”, sounds a bit more gritty than anything on the album. “Did your siblings tell you I was wasting up your time. Oh, now you’re wasting mine.”

“Drawing Board” has a similar vibe to “Cassy O’”, lyrically speaking. “You spend your nights with another man. Oh you don’t rest your head in mine no more. I’ve gotta take my plug back to the drawing board.” In an album filled with retro vibes “Stand by Your Gun” sounds like the most modern cut, besides George’s voice that is.

Other songs like “Breakaway” and “Over the Creek” are not likely to become singles, but provide a nice leisurely appeal to the ears at the end of his debut. It’s highly encouraged to listen from beginning to end. I’m sure George Ezra would be completely “chuffed”, as he often says on his Facebook and Twitter account.

It’s real songwriting at it’s best with no gimmicks and auto-tune that you usually get with Top 40 acts these days. He has true cross-generation appeal. You catch him on tour with Sam Smith as well as his own solo tour this spring. “Wanted on Voyage” is out on Columbia Records. I give the album 4 out of 5 stars.