"Wanted On Voyage” is the debut album by George Ezra. Listening to his weathered voice, one may think he is an old hand in the music business - but he is only 21. Best known for his hit single “Budapest,” the singer-songwriter took his inspiration for this first album (after two previously released EPs) mainly from a train journey through Europe he undertook last year. He wrote no songs during that trip, but kept a journal in which he later based his songs, so that’s why the track-list on “Wanted On Voyage” reads so much like a travel diary.
Although the Bristol based singer-songwriter mentions European capitals (besides the good-natured “Budapest,” “Barcelona” and also “Blind Man In Amsterdam“ on the deluxe edition) he gets his musical inspiration mainly from the USA. He cites Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie as great examples, although this inspiration isn’t really noticeable. Summery songs like “Drawing Board” and “Listen To The Man” are more in line with modern folk-pop than the politically engaged songs from Ezra's idols. His deep voice and emphatically American accent make him vocally stands out among his peers. In “Spectacular Revival” his vocals are even somewhat reminiscent of Nick Cave.
Producer Cam Blackwood (Florence And The Machine, London Grammar) has delivered a neat and balanced production in which Ezra's voice prominently emerges. With his breezy pop songs, he might be seen as a kind of missing link between Ed Sheeran and Jack Johnson. Despite clear stylistic choices, “Wanted On Voyage” is very rich in contrast. You’ve got the foot-stomper “Cassy O’,” a very catchy track that’s one of my favorites on this album, but there’s also the bluesy “Breakaway,” a kind of hybrid between a slave-song and a Hootie And The Blowfish track. “Stand By Your Gun” is a carefree pop song, while “Did You Hear It Rain?” is a mix of gospel and country and then you also have the disco-ish “Stand By Your Gun.”
Obviously, George Ezra has a distinctive voice. If I had to sound a minor critical note, it’s that his singing voice would fit so nicely with the soul/blues-genre. Instead, on this record he doesn’t go much outside the already well-worn channels of pop music. But that nitpicking issue aside, this is a great debut album. Calling it a brilliant record would be a tad exaggerated, but pleasant and downright beautiful, it sure is. Recommended!
Review by D.C. Stolk