Release Date: Jun 24, 2013
Record label: Columbia
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
It would be fair to say that there is a significant amount of hype surrounding 22-year-old Tom Odell, from Chichester. He has featured in the long list for the BBC Sound Of 2013, had one of his songs – Another Love – used to advertise the Beeb’s 2013 schedule, won the BRITs Critics Choice Award, appeared in numerous other ‘ones to watch’ lists, closed the Burberry show at London Fashion Week and featured in Comic Relief. It is not hard to see how Odell has found himself on an irrepressible upward trajectory to pop stardom.
Morrissey proclaimed over two decades ago that, “We hate it when our friends become successful”, but being British as he is, he should’ve known that it’s in the British national psyche to hate it when practically anyone becomes successful. Any triumph is invariably met with the notion that the progenitor needs to be taken down a peg or two. We derive such pleasure from schadenfreude it’s a miracle we don’t have our own word for it.
The brooding and bloodied Romeo to Jake Bugg's blue collar Brit-pop Lothario, sad sack English crooner Tom Odell's intimate, soul-searching ballads draw from an awfully deep well of ruin, especially for a man barely into his twenties. How much of that black hole was built from sheer artifice is up for debate, but there's certainly no denying the West Sussex native's knack for spinning expertly crafted tales of woe. The appropriately titled Long Way Down, his debut long-payer, aims for the nosebleed seats without riddling its audience with cannon fire.
Some artists respond to hype by overcompensating. Tom Odell, who won the critics' choice prize at this year's Brits, has gone the other way. There is something admirably cocky about the brevity of his debut album, which barely crosses the half-hour mark, and these 10 songs capture the 22-year-old's appeal – his key-thumping energy, his heart-on-sleeve simplicity.
With this year's Brits critic's choice award in his back pocket and support slots with the Rolling Stones, Tom Odell has not been set up to fail. That none of his singles have charted isn't for lack of commerciality. His delayed debut showcases his two default modes: a Chris Martin-type balladeer/troubadour and Waterboys' Mike Scott-type piano-thumper.
Tom Odell possesses an undeniable and unique power. His voice, at once brittle and bullet-proof, communicates a brand of emotional range that should quite suitably amuse, trouble and stun his audiences. On debut demo, “Another Love”, a song that featured a sparse piano progression that gradually, with help from the singer’s voice, gathered itself to full might, Odell appeared a young talent in full bloom.
Tom Odell is, it seems, the ‘bright young thing’ of British music. Awarded the BRIT Awards Critics’ Choice and nominated for the ‘prestigious’ BBC Sound Of 2013 gong he has even been linked to American pop starlet Taylor Swift (although it feels these days that the list of who she hasn’t been linked to might be shorter). But is there much by way of artistry to back this praise? Much depth behind his lovely, shiny hair?The most striking thing about Odell’s sonic arsenal is, without doubt, his voice.