- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

George Ezra, “Staying at Tamara’s” (Columbia Records)

George Ezra can’t stand still. “Staying at Tamara’s,” his second album, arrives four years after “Wanted for Voyage,” which included breakthrough smash “Budapest,” and led to two years on tour and plenty of traveling.

Ezra gets writer’s block at home, so he took to the road to hone his songwriting. Barcelona was his first destination - the album title references the shared Airbnb he stayed at - but later stops in his native Britain included a pig farm and a pair of sheds.

Whether near or far, Ezra’s world view barely seems to change and usually some befuddlement involved. Opener “Pretty Shining People,” for example, has a catchy chorus, and lyrics like “What a terrible time/To be alive if you’re prone/To overthinking,” while he muses what it would be like to win the lottery - had he bothered to buy a ticket.

Traveling is presented as a good alternative to whatever may be ailing you - “I will ride on down the road” or “With a suitcase in your hand/It don’t matter now.” Whether it’s the way forward to a new start or just escapism is in the eye of the beholder.

“Shotgun” fulfils Ezra’s long-standing desire to have a song that sounds like it could be from Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” though the link is tenuous, achieved mostly by the sound of its slinky bass.

The album’s general mood is upbeat and some of the best songs are saved for the second half - ballad “Hold My Girl” and “Saviour,” which sounds like the theme for a train trip through the Wild West.

George Ezra’s baritone is the voice of a storyteller - deep, resonant and expressive - but he should look harder for stories to tell.

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