24 September 2014

MUSIC: Wanted on Voyage

1. Blame it on Me - 8.5/10

A sunny opener that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Like many of the songs on Wanted on Voyage, the best parts are the chorus and the climax. The little touches make this an absolute delight, setting out Ezra's shop early on. A cracking single.

2. Budapest - 8/10

The guitar and bass lines are the best thing about this bobbing little track, but Ezra's vocals and the train-like drumming aren't far behind. The lyrics are evidently deeply personal and soar into gentle stings and melodies on Ezra's guitar as he sings of missed opportunities and lost opportunities. Really soothing and endlessly listenable.

3. Cassy O' - 6.5/10 

A summer-inspired tale of Ezra's misfortune. This strums along pleasingly enough but never reaches the same level of confidence or ambition as some other tracks. The vocals are excellent here and show off the artist's range well. It's a song you desperately wish you could sing along to.

4. Barcelona - 8/10

After the relatively speedy introductory three songs, Barcelona feels like a well-timed pause in the album. This won't be remembered as a classic album track, but is nonetheless strong and engaging. Like a couple of other songs on Wanted on Voyage, this is a bit too short to fully do the track justice but I still like it a lot. The percussion works well against Ezra's affecting lyrics.

5. Listen to the Man - 9/10

One of my favourites from this album, this has a wise mix of tempos, combined with an excellent chorus. This progresses really well and washes over you easily without being a wasted track. The second half is undoubtedly superior, and features every instrument at perhaps the peak of its sophistication. This would've made a great single in my opinion.

6. Leaving it up to You - 9/10

Once again, a great chorus leads a catchy song with some strong verses. A personal highlight, even if it just for the "leaving it up, leaving it up, leaving it up, leaving it up to you" bit. A tale of jealousy and regret told in what I thought was a fresh way. The backing singers help raise this to another level.

7. Did You Hear the Rain? - 6.5/10

Quite a weak song in my opinion. It tries too hard to be epic and thumping in the way Spectacular Rival gets just right. Although Ezra's voice is undoubtedly strong, this is too long (especially the introduction) and never really does anything, even when it gets going. For the guitar lines, this scores quite well though. A bit of a pity.

8. Drawing Board - 8.5/10

An enthusiastic, upbeat story of failure and grudges that showcases Ezra's sophisticated songwriting. We're entering the part of the album with the best lyrics now, and this is no exception. Listen to Ezra's merry words of spite as he hollers over a summertime tune. I think the message of this song is summarised perfectly in the lyrics, "You said you needed a haircut, I recommended Mr Todd/Of all the men in this big bad world, he's perfect for the job." Superb.

9. Stand by Your Gun - 9/10

Featuring probably the strongest percussion of the album, this track speaks of innocence and imperfection. 'Trust your instincts' is the unspoken message, as Ezra sings in an unusually high pitch during the verses. The last 60 seconds of this are perfect, and make this one of my favourites from the album. Very promising indeed.

10. Breakaway - 7/10

Another quiet song and the longest track on the album. "You may think he's a demolition expert" and "you'll shelter with me" convey the text of Breakaway. As enjoyable as the first half is, the latter portion is the superior, with Ezra's lyrics overlaying the chorus the best moment. It takes a while to get to the bit I really like though, so marks off for that, but overall a pretty enjoyable track.

11. Over the Creek - 8.5/10

One of a few tracks where the song kicks in properly after a few seconds. "Oh nonetheless, I must confess that I'm the mess that has been left to save you" is a great lyric that sticks in the mind long after the song's over. My only regret is that this lacks a proper conclusion. The overriding subtext here is that the future is uncertain, and it's up to you what you make of it. An admirable message for a great little song.

12. Spectacular Rival - 9/10

Oozing in menace and depth, this is a very 'deep purple' song for me. Ezra gets to indulge in a different style of song, employing electronics and strings to make his point. Atmospheric by the bucketload, it's great to see genre-spanning pain and songwriting bleeding in, even at the sharp end of the album. This is a really epic finale, and sums up what's come before whilst still looking to the future. Everything goes mad at the end, and it really works in a A Day in the Life / Death and All His Friends way of closing an album.

The breaks and pauses in Wanted on Voyage really help make it into an album rather than a collection of songs. I loved the mature songwriting he offers, and tackles self-deprecation in an endearing manner. The themes of the songs reminded me a lot of Marina and the Diamonds' early work, which can only be a good thing.

This is a highly enjoyable, and I really do recommend it. This is only the second album of 2014 I've bought, and I don't have any regrets. All elements of the musical spectrum are given their chance to shine on Ezra's amazing debut, but ultimately it's his lyrics and vocals that serve as the highlight of the piece. Wanted on Voyage is a massive storming onto the scene, and surely one to watch for the future.


Top Three Tracks:
Listen to the Man, Leaving it up to You and Spectacular Rival

Buy the CD here, or the download here.

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