English singer-songwriter George Ezra is on tour with “Staying at Tamara’s.” (Courtesy Phil Smithies)

Laid-back Spain inspires George Ezra’s second album

When composing his latest album “Staying at Tamara’s,” soulful British crooner George Ezra didn’t experience pressure following up his 2014 overseas smash debut “Wanted on Voyage.” He merely continued his favorite pursuit: traveling. At an Airbnb in Barcelona, owned by the titular Tamara, he disappeared for a rejuvenating month, finding songwriting inspiration along the way. He adds, “There was a cabin in Norfolk that I rented for 10 days that proved important. But Barcelona is just perfect, because it’s got that laid-back Spanish mentality, but there’s still industry and creativity there.”

You like to travel so much that — when you got a month off — you spent it hiking the 100-mile trail in England’s Cotswolds.

Yeah! I had the month of May off, just before festival season in 2015, so I did that hiking holiday. There’s a U.K. company that organizes it, and you’ve actually got all the luxuries, because they book these little rooms above pubs for each night, and somebody comes by and picks up your suitcase for you. It was amazing. There were all these beautiful villages I passed through like nothing I’d seen, with populations of maybe 200, max.

Did you see any animals along the way?

Yeah, There was this huge bull in a field that I had to pass through, and he was even listed on the map — X equals bull. And I did not want to go through there, because it had been raining and the field suddenly seemed much longer than I’d hoped. So I saw the bull, but I just walked through as quickly as I could and tried not to make any eye contact. I just told myself not to run.

Did new songs occur to you on the trip?

Not on that particular one. But I listened to a lot of Woody Guthrie, Burl Ives and Johnny Flynn on the hike. So it was more about me trying to make sense of everything that had happened, up to that point. And I came to very few conclusions. Only recently have I been able to make sense of that first record.

Any dream destinations on your bucket list?

There are a few I want to do, kind of with a third record in mind. Like starting off in Vancouver and driving down the west coast of America to see all the national parks and just switch off completely. There’s a mountain trail along the border of France and Spain that I’d like to walk, and I’d really like to experience Japan on some level, outside of its major cities. Going off the beaten path really appeals to me.

IF YOU GO
George Ezra
Where: Fox Theater,1807 Telegraph Ave., Oakland
When: 8 p.m. May 9
Tickets: $35
Contact: (510) 302-2250, www.ticketmaster.com

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