|George Michael - Patience|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Paul Lingas|
|Tuesday, 18 May 2004|
Professionalism abounds in Patience, this latest effort from George Michael, one of the U.K.’s most influential and consistent pop exports. However, just because it is done professionally doesn’t mean that it’s firing on all cylinders. Patience is a decently entertaining yet mostly pedestrian effort that, while it reflects the good things about Michael, simply feels a bit dated. If you’re European or really like Michael, add 2.5 points to the Performance score. If you’re an average American, though, those numbers above are what you get. The album has already gone double platinum in the U.K., but you wouldn’t necessarily know it over on this side of the Atlantic.
Tracks like “Amazing” and “Flawless (Go to the City)” are fantastic upbeat dance-flavored tunes that get you up and out the door. This is Michael at his absolute best, but when it is not executed quite as well, it seems like the same old thing. Backing vocals are fantastic on all tracks; he really knows how to pick them and they add a nice flair in the perfect places. Most of the backing vocals are actually Michael himself, and this shows not only his vocal and musical talent, but the talent of the engineers as well. Again, very professional.
The songwriting itself is not so much flawed as it is slightly muted in a way that is trying to say “maturity.” An example of this is the title track, which consists of a piano (which incidentally happened to belong to John Lennon) and Michael’s warm, sometimes breathy voice singing the following: “Look into the eyes of any patient man/There’s a piece of God staring back at you.” The man who was always trying to push the envelope of decorum and FCC regulations has gotten older and his music is a reflection of that. It’s not a bad thing, but it takes away from some of what made him a musician you had to hear.
“American Angel” is an homage to the man of his life and while it does sound nice, almost too nice, there is something recycled about it. “Cars and Trains,” “Round Here” and “My Mother Had a Brother” all combine a prominent beat with almost pensive ruminations on anything from familial relationships to love and loss. This is where Michael’s voice is at its best, because he doesn’t need to or try to overdo it when bringing feeling into the words. It also makes one realize that the vocals are mixed extraordinarily well. Again however, these three songs tend to blend in to each other and will get lost in the shuffle.
Michael is obviously talented. He has a knack for good lyrics, good beats and has a great voice. The problem lies in the part where when you listen to Patience, what you hear is exactly what you would expect. If you have memories of George Michael in the late ‘90s or even throughout the ‘80s, this is what you’ll hear. Unlike albums where the tracks go on and on and you get to a point where you beg them to stop, the music on Patience is such that you actually want it to keep going. Many of these tracks extend into what ends up being dance mixes, and you can easily hear the remixes being spun out at the studio. So there is a lot of bang for the buck, which is a definite plus, but in the end, Patience is just another good Europop album.