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10 June 2022

George Ezra’s Gold Rush Kid: the irresistible return of the barbecue troubadour

Ezra’s sun-soaked new album shows off his gap-year vibes and big wicket-keeper energy.

By Emily Bootle

A public service announcement for portable Bluetooth speakers everywhere: you are about to be seriously overworked, because lonesome-troubadour-cum-Airbnb-connoisseur George Ezra has released a new album. Every single person who has ever been on/is currently on a holiday that they have described/will shortly describe in an Instagram post as an “adventure” is about to blast it on repeat and, regrettably, feel “seen”. Boutique hostels of the world, warn your neighbours that another six months of ersatz Paul Simon is coming down the track. 

Gold Rush Kid, released today (10 June), is the third album from Ezra – loveable prophet of the British summer with Andrex-puppy eyes and big wicket-keeper energy – and continues in his usual vein. There is nothing to worry about with Ezra, you see: it’s music for people on their gap year who are homesick for their 10.5 tog duvet, or for office workers absolutely gagging for a Pimm’s on a Friday afternoon in July. It evokes just the teensiest tad of risk by referencing exotic locations like Manila and Rotterdam – Ezra’s second-biggest hit, lest we forget, was called “Budapest” – but trundles along, always, with lovely piano, lovely guitar and lovely singalong choruses. 

Ezra’s travels add a touch of aspiration to what is otherwise the musical equivalent of a suburban barbecue event for men wearing culturally insensitive shirts; among the jolly patter and the acoustic band on Gold Rush Kid we catch glimpses of “nights to remember”, “beautiful faces” and “champagne”. Ezra’s sophomore album, Staying At Tamara’s, was actually written at an Airbnb – hence the title – and Sony sent him on a railway trip around Europe to get inspiration for his first record, Wanted on Voyage: if those wanderings are still providing him with material, it’s clear he had a pretty good time.

The album launches with textbook Ezra: “Anyone For You”, a song about a 21-year-old named “Tigerlily” whom he attempts to save from herself, has a surely deliberate Toto-esque reference to the Serengeti, spangling piano, a clap chorus within 45 seconds and a “Walking On Sunshine”-inspired brass riff. It’s followed by “Green Green Grass”, whose slightly manic optimism (“Green green grass/Blue blue sky/You’d better throw a party on the day that I die”) you can’t help but respect.

After a couple more tracks of vaguely Calypso-inspired bopping – including “Dance All Over Me”, whose dancing dancing dancing and letting it be be be has a “what happens in Vilnius stays in Vilnius” vibe – the mood turns. There are still singable chants (“Hey hey, it’s a new day”), romance and endearing innocence (“goodness gracious”, says Ezra on a track called “Sweetest Human Being Alive”), but there’s an air of melancholy, too. The second half of the album is one for the flight home, reflecting on life – but, needless to say, he never pushes it. “I’m so happy I could die now”, Ezra sings on the final track, “Sun Went Down”, never sparing on the sunny riffs and shuffling snare. It’s sad, but still lovely, like a slightly existential episode of the Teletubbies.

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Let’s be fair. Sure, Ezra is a white former public schoolboy from Hertfordshire who writes a lot of similar-sounding songs that assuage middle-class ennui – but where would we be without him? When you hear the brass ringing out in “Anyone For You”, when you share wistfully in thoughts of jet planes, bikini bottoms and lager tops, you’ll be tapping your foot in restrained joy, just like I was. 

[ See also: Wu-Tang Forever at 25: an audacious milestone in hip-hop]

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