Album review: George Ezra – Gold Rush Kid
Harry Craig reviews George Ezra’s newly released album, Gold Rush Kid.
George Ezra is to summertime what Michael Bublé is to Christmas. His newly released third studio album, Gold Rush Kid, displays relentless positivity and honeydew lyrics, making it sound like pure, liquified sunshine. There’s no shortage of British twenty-something male singer-songwriters with a guitar at the moment, but none can create the same vibe as George.
It has been four years since Ezra released his last studio album, Staying at Tamara’s, which rocketed him to superstar status courtesy of ‘Paradise’ and ‘Shotgun’. Since then, he has opened up about his struggles with OCD. Although Gold Rush Kid retains his trademark optimism, George also becomes more personal and open than ever before.
The opening track and lead single ‘Anyone For You (Tiger Lily)’ marked Ezra’s return back in January. The lyrics are relatively basic, albeit with an impressive skill at rhyming “Tiger Lily” with “Serengeti”. Nonetheless, it is an earworm – arguably demonstrating that George’s best talent is writing catchy songs that stick in your head.
The same is true of the album’s second single and my personal favourite, ‘Green Green Grass’ – a song I can imagine myself shouting on a sunny summer road trip or soundtracking a cocktail in the garden. Despite hitting the headlines following the Queen’s Jubilee Concert where Ezra censored the line “you better throw a party on the day that I die”, his catchy song-writing shines through here. The contributions of Stuart Price, who has previously worked with Madonna, Dua Lipa and others, must be credited to this song.
[George Ezra’s] newly released third studio album, Gold Rush Kid, displays relentless positivity and honeydew lyrics, making it sound like pure, liquified sunshine
Another highlight of the album is the title third track, ‘Gold Rush Kid’ – Ezra has front-loaded this album to kick off with a run of three of his trademark “sunshine” tunes. Like the first two tracks, the chorus refrain of “I’m the gold rush kid, robbing the bank, making a run for it and learning to dance” will get stuck in your head. However, this is also where George’s lyric writing begins to allude to his mental health issues, with the line “You’re not alone, although you feel alone, you’re just like everyone, you’re holding on” spreading an important, if somewhat clichéd, message that is reiterated in a later track, ‘Don’t Give Up’.
It wouldn’t be a George Ezra album without a voyage to a distant city. Having already taken us to Budapest and Barcelona on the last two albums, this time Ezra takes us further afield to ‘Manila’. The lyrics are not overly complex, akin to the rest of the album, instead, the track is driven by its alluring instrumentals. It implicitly features piano, saxophone and guitar in a way that you can’t help but sway along to. Hidden in its lyrics are subtle references to quarantine – a reminder that much of this album was created under COVID lockdown restrictions, unlike his former two albums that explored Ezra’s previous European travels. The instrumental variation extends to the next track, ‘Fell In Love At The End of The World’, in which Ezra employs a violin to create the romantic ambience warranted by the title.
” It wouldn’t be a George Ezra album without a voyage to a distant city.
A catchy, upbeat track, ‘Dance All Over Me’ returns before a significant shift for the latter half of the album. The tone becomes noticeably more melancholy and calmer as Ezra becomes more introspective about his struggles with OCD. This turning point is marked by ‘I Went Hunting’, in which Ezra becomes more personal than ever before, asking us to “imagine having a thought and then thinking it again, thinking it again, thinking it again”.
This downshift in tone makes the songs distinctly less memorable for me – their musical style is broadly similar, with softly-spoken lyrics over a guitar or piano. I find my attention drifts by this point in the album, although this reiterates Ezra’s tendency for easy-listening music – I can certainly imagine listening to songs like ‘In The Morning’ and ‘Sweetest Human Being Alive’ in the background as I study.
Considering the sunshine metaphors often used to describe Ezra’s music, it seems fitting to end the album with a track entitled ‘The Sun Went Down’. This epitomises the quieter tone nearing the end of the album – there is no bombast, particularly by Ezra implementing calming bird noises.
Gold Rush Kid is an album of two halves, all throughout is exactly what we have come to expect from George. The album simultaneously spans both catchy singalongs like ‘Green Green Grass’ and romantic ballads like ‘Fell In Love At The End of The World’. It may not provide any massive surprises, but George knows what works, and he employs it to great effect in this album with a new, personal touch. Gold Rush Kid, particularly its first three tracks, are certain to be this summer’s soundtrack.
George Ezra’s Gold Rush Kid is out now via Sony.