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George Ezra: Listen To This Man, He'll Make You Swoon

"If this is the only album I get to release, so be it," George Ezra says. "I've had the best time."
Courtesy of the artist
"If this is the only album I get to release, so be it," George Ezra says. "I've had the best time."

George Ezra has a voice that can float high and delicate, but it can also wade deep. At 18, he was discovered via YouTube; now, at 21, he's released a debut album that's No. 1 in England.

Before he made Wanted On Voyage, Ezra took a solo train trip across Europe for inspiration, as he eavesdropped on conversations and took notes to find starting points for songs. Written after a night of drunken revelry and a missed train, "Budapest" takes its title from a city he never got to visit. So, while trying his hand at a love song, Ezra decided to write about all the beautiful things he would give up for love: "golden grand piano, my beautiful castillo, my acres of land." Of course, he owns none of those things.

If Ezra's album title sounds familiar, you might remember the words inscribed on Paddington Bear's suitcase.

"When I was a kid, my mom used to dress me up as him," Ezra tells NPR's Melissa Block. "If it was cold out, I'd have a blue duffle coat. I'd have my wellies on."

When taking a long boat journey, Ezra later learned, people would write "wanted on voyage" on their luggage to signify they wanted them on the trip.

"I liked the idea of people listening to a record that I wrote while I traveled while they traveled and wanted it on their journey," Ezra says.

Things are looking up for George Ezra, whose adorable video for "Listen To The Man" features Sir Ian McKellen lip-syncing along. But Ezra says he's aware that attention spans are short.

"I always say, if this is the only album I get to release, so be it. I've had the best time," Ezra says. "I'll continue writing and creating. If people get to hear it, then that's amazing. I don't want people to think that I don't love this; I do.

"I think also that things move so quickly now, as well. I think that's the same with audiences in music — I think before they know it, they're being pitched the next act that they should be getting into. It's a lot more accessible now. If I can sit here when I'm 60 and talking about my 15th, 20th record, well, happy days, I'd love that. But we'll see."

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