GEORGE MICHAEL Patience (2004 UK 14-track CD album featuring the singles Amazing Freeeek! 04 plus Shoot The Dog picture sleeve)
It must be hard being a George Michael fan. Patience
is only his fourth studio effort in the 18 years since Wham! split, so its release must be some cause for celebration. There always seems to have been something preventing him from releasing a new album--from arrests for lewd behaviour, protracted battles with record companies or prolonged periods of grieving for departed family and friends. Thankfully, Patience
is pretty good.
Flitting between fraught ballads and up-tempo adult pop (the misguided sample-laden singles "Freeek!" and "Shoot the Dog" being the unnecessary exceptions), George here returns to the structure and mood of 1990s Listen Without Prejudice, Vol. 1. Patience is at its most delicate and moving with its title track, the intense, tabloid-attacking "Through" and the painful family memories of "My Mother Had a Brother". To balance this, hearts will be raised by "Amazing", with its echoes of the Bee Gees, "Round Here", in which George remembers his early days scampering around Bushey with Andrew Ridgley, and "Cars and Trains", which celebrates the kind of lifestyle that so riled the LAPD back in 1998. That's the thing about George Michael these days. Love him or loathe him, he is unapologetically himself. And fans should be very grateful for that. --Dominic Wills