The reviews for George Michael’s Symphonica are coming in, and most of them are good.
The Daily Mail gives Symphonica 4 out of 5 stars with the following verdict: poignant and polished.
As befits a man of 50, this record is more refined. With elegant strings and horns adding colour without being intrusive, it places the onus firmly on a smooth, expressive voice that is still in magnificent fettle.
The Telegraph gives Symphonica 4 out of 5 stars as well, saying:
An unadventurous set list reworks some of his most thoughtful and sombre songs with a selection of classic covers, all given a lush production gloss by the late Phil Ramone. What lifts it to a higher plane is Michael’s smooth and expressive singing. He has gorgeous tone and timbre and an instinct for when to introduce a breathy intimacy and when to raise the roof.
The Associated Press headline raves: ‘Symphonica’ Review: George Michael Is As Good As Ever,” saying:
Michael avoids a number of traps on this album, which was produced by the late Phil Ramone, who also teamed with the singer in 1999 on “Songs From the Last Century.” Michael deserves credit for moving deftly into big band and orchestral territory without in any way trying to imitate the master, Frank Sinatra, or taking on the vocal tics of the many other artists who have turned to American standards as a mid-career tonic. The style and phrasings are all his own, confident and understated, and the sparse arrangements allow ample room for his hypnotic voice to soar. By instinct, he shies way from self-dramatizing vocal pyrotechnics, letting the melodies and lyrics carry the day.
Rolling Stone gives Symphonica 3 out of 5 stars, saying:
Mr. Explore Monogamy lounges it up on “One More Try” and “Praying for Time”; best of all is when he torches up the Wham!-era oldie “A Different Corner,” giving it a touch of autumnal wisdom.
The negative reviews are coming from the U.S., which is not surprising.
The Washington Post has one of the most negative reviews, saying:
Song selection also plagues Michael’s “Symphonica,” which is an unaccountably strange creature — a not-entirely-live collection of covers and little-known originals, many of them drawn from his 1999 release, “Songs From the Last Century.” The last album produced by the legendary Phil Ramone before his death last year, “Symphonica” appears to have undergone more than the standard amount of studio sweetening, with Michael’s 2012 orchestral tour serving as a foundation.
The New York Daily News has another negative review with a 2 star rating:
George Michael hasn’t put out a new album in seven years — and he hasn’t issued one with a spark of vim or an ounce of vigor in more than 20.
The San Francisco Gate has some positive and negative points, saying:
Let’s not get too excited about “Symphonica,” the first new George Michael album in seven years, because the live recording is made up of well-worn material.