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Taken from RIFF Magazine (Jun 06, 2022)

ALBUM REVIEW: George Ezra rings in summer on 'Gold Rush Kid'

Rating: 8/10

by Mike DeWald


George Ezra, 'Gold Rush Kid' cover art
George Ezra, 'Gold Rush Kid' cover art


It's difficult not to feel a little optimism while listening to Gold Rush Kid, the third studio effort by George Ezra. The U.K. artist builds on his pop pedigree with an expansive and joyous sound that fuses eclectic and unexpected influences. Gold Rush Kid, his first album since 2018's Staying at Tamara's, is a vibrant showcase of Ezra's unique bassy vocal tones, built on the foundation of modern pop.


A bright piano introduces album opener "Anyone For You (Tiger Lily)." The track has a carefree and upbeat Michael-Franti-esque character to it. While it's by no means reggae, there's certainly an island vibe present that defines it. The horn section that enters in the closing moments ties the whole thing together to get the album off to a soaring start.


Ezra has called "Green Green Grass" an ode to making the best of difficult circumstances. The soulful cut has a natural rhythmic vocal flow that makes it instantly memorable. The song, and its message are simple, but there's such a natural accessibility that it's impossible not to be taken in.


"You better throw a party on the day that I die," Ezra sings on the uplifting chorus.



The bouncy title track keeps the energy high, brining in an indie personality with an alt-pop sheen. It shouldn't be a surprise at this point, but Ezra's voice still surprises. He sounds like he's from the Deep South, which is simply unexpected from a Bristol-born vocalist. That might be even more noticeable on "Manila," a poppy mid-tempo tune that brings together a bluesy character with a soulful and infectious vocal melody. Many of the tracks clock in right around three minutes and make their point effectively.


The pace slows just a bit for the earnest rhythmic ballad "Fell In Love At the End of the World." "Don't Give Up" digs deeper into R&B with a spacious and atmospheric chorus that allows Ezra's voice to permeate everything. As one might expect given the title, the song offers a resilient and uplifting message during troubled times.


After a few more ethereal songs, things pick up for anthemic dance floor tune "Dance All Over Me." It's got some of the most expansive arrangements on the record, and Ezra's vocal captures the objective. But beyond the club, this song is sure to have its own life at concerts. The transition from "Dance All Over Me" is abrupt to more solemn and stripped-down "I Went Hunting." The latter has a straightforward arrangement, without the big beats of its predecessor, and a much heavier orchestral feel with the violins in the string section.



The acoustic, piano-led "In The Morning" tapes into Ezra's initial influences. "Hey hey it's a new day," he repeats with the help of a choir, keeping tight to the uplifting message of hope. Then on piano ballad "Sweetest Human Being Alive," Ezra intimately sings to a women he hasn't yet met.


Gold Rush Kid offers one more movement, picking up the pace with "Love Somebody Else," a rhythmic and melodic track that recalls American Mat Kearney. The album concludes with ethereal two-minute tune "The Sun Went Down," complete with birdcalls, which lowers the curtain on one of those summer days you're sure to remember for a while. "I'm so happy/ I could die now," Ezra sings.



 
 

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