"Symphonica" is George Michael's first album in 10 years. Though it's being marketed as a new album, it is really a concert/studio hybrid recorded during his Symphonica tour. As a long time George Michael fan, I was particularly interested in owning a record like this, considering the fact that this is his very first solo live release to date. Live albums are usually a good way of reminding people that someone exists, showcasing an artist's back catalogue or acting as a stop gap between albums. In GM's case, "Symphonica" does all of the above. Within the collection there are solo hits lifted from his own repertoire, as well as some of the covers that he had recorded for his 1999 covers collection, "Songs from the last century", plus a couple of renditions of some of music's finest artists.
Always the perfectionist, GM makes sure that there is a rich and expensive quality to each song. Most tracks could easily pass for studio versions, despite the applause and sporadic bits of improvisation; but, although the album lacks the mistakes and spontaneity of live recordings, it is a reminder of Michael's exceptional talents as a songwriter, vocalist and performer. Quite a few numbers have been omitted from this release, most notably Rihanna's "Russian roulette" and Amy Winehouse's "Love is a losing game", both of which were tour highlights. In fact, there were enough tracks excluded from the record to have made the record a 2-disc set. As GM's status as one of Britain's greatest pop stars is already cemented, "Symphonica" will reward all listeners with its undeniable class.