It’s starting to feel like fall here in Nashville, and it’s about time (can I get an Amen?!). Truly, there is no better way to soak in the cool air and accept that the time for colder weather, sweaters, and warm drinks is upon us, than to go downtown and spend a bit of time with George Ezra at the Ryman.
Louisiana native, Dylan LeBlanc opened the night, setting the tone with his folksy-melancholy sound. Think Fleet Foxes with a few more country inspired roots. Despite his young age, LeBlanc sings with the kind of conviction that can only come from experience, and with a sound that has earned the attention from the likes of Bruce Springsteen and the Alabama Shakes, it’s clear that those experiences are already taking him places. The crowd was fairly quiet and reserved throughout his set, and it felt a bit like listening intently to someone tell old stories from their past. LeBlanc recently wrote his third album, Cautionary Tales, and he surprised us all with a guest appearance from John Paul White, who produced and played on his newest album. Civil Wars fans rejoice! (… and weep. We know losing the Civil Wars was a tough blow.)
Once Dylan LeBlanc closed his set, the stage was set for George Ezra- complete with the latter part of his name in lights across the back of the stage and a Pinterest-worthy stack of suitcases near Ezra’s mic. The stage itself was enough to get the crowd in a more energized mood and by the time he came out, we were READY. The most notable thing about Ezra is his distinctively soulful voice, and while it’s amazing on his recordings I am stoked to say it’s even better live. Ezra is hugely talented at both singing and songwriting, his voice absolutely fills the room and hearing it in the Ryman Auditorium is something that everyone should get to experience. Ezra wrote his record Wanted On Voyage while traveling abroad in Europe and as my friend who was at the show with me so accurately said; “His songwriting makes me want to travel the world”.
Ezra sang a few of my personal favorites including “Leaving It Up To You”, “Barcelona”, “Blame It On Me”, and “Benjamin Twine”, but he also changed it up a bit and covered Bob Dylan’s “Girl From the North Country”, which of course was stunning with the spin that his voice, obviously much deeper and a bit less folksy than Dylan’s, put on it. He also covered “I Try” by Macy Gray, and got the entire crowd on their feet because really, that song is a TUNE and could even get that town from the movie Footloose up on their feet for a dance.
He sang his most well-known hit “Budapest” toward the end of the night and it was made even better by the fact that he told us the song was written about the time he was in Sweden and drank so much rum that he missed his train the next morning to Budapest. We’ve all been there, right? The back stories for the songs combined with the fact that he is from the UK and even his normal speaking voice is like maple syrup for the soul created a beautiful, amazingly fun night for all of us here in Nashville. So George, if you ever get the itch to travel through Europe again to have more adventures and write more beautiful songs, I know someone who would be more than happy to join you. Spoiler alert: it’s me. Hit me up.