George Michael - Symphonica
Since 2004’s Patience, the man formerly known as Georgios Panayiotou has had what would be described as 'interesting times' in polite company. In the ten years from that last studio effort, George Michael has spent more time on the front page of the tabloids than in the charts, so Symphonica is at last an opportunity for him to get some headlines for the reason we all fell for his smooth tones in the first place - the music.
Drawn from the aborted 2011 tour of the same name, the song selection is an eclectic mix of covers and self-penned material: Terence Trent D’Arby’s career highlight ‘Let Her Down Easy’ is beautifully performed but gets filed under Easy Listening; ‘Feeling Good’ is breathy and powerful but a familiar retread; ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ becomes a sub-two minute, breezy, soft jazz tune. The highlight, a beautiful version of ‘The Last Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ sits alongside a delicate version of ‘A Different Corner’ and a lush production of his classic ‘Praying For Time’ - where he conclusively proves that his unique tone has survived the last decade of craziness intact. George clearly still has 'it', and while the production is slick, Symphonica is the epitome of safe. If you have a dinner party coming up then this is a solid purchase - others should just re-acquaint yourselves with Faith or Praying For Time.