To those who hold music dear to them- the fact that an artist’s words are his own is the equivalent of the reinstated hope of a beautiful world. Tom Odell’s originality as a singer and songwriter is striking. At 28, the British artist who started solo, and won the BRITs Critics Choice awards 2013, is still rising. From dragging his keyboard from one open mic to another, which he describes ‘humiliating’, and advertising in music schools, he did learn to strive.
His debut extended play, Songs from Another Love released in 2012 won him the BRITs Critics in 2013. This was followed by his lauded, record breaking debut studio album Long Way Down in June, the same year. It was No. 1 on the UK Official Chart.
He has been observed to mirror David Bowie’s energy and his music a fusion of indie-pop and folk. And, I couldn’t agree more. Though, I do feel a slight shade of country music as the faded backdrop in some of his songs such as Grow Old with Me. One cannot help but be impressed by his diversity from Another Love or Concrete to True Colors.
While his song hazed with the likeness of indie-pop is exuberant with energy, Heal and True Colors (not his) holds gravity. It reeks of intensity that he lets slip as though calculated. Can’t Pretend stands on the same stage in holding the audience. A barely two and a half minutes song with a piano as the only accompaniment to Odell’s voice, True Colors is not cited as his most popular among Another Love and Wrong Crowd because it is not his. But, that hardly influences the beauty of his version.
Drawn from personal feelings, relationships and experiences, his songs connect because of the reality they reflect. He shares similarity with Cobain there. Although, Coldplay being one of the bands he was influenced by, his songs do share a great resemblance to the beloved band. They remind me of literary classics. They aren’t classics in themselves like Killing Me Softly, Can’t Help falling in Love with You, Wonderful Tonight, Hotel California or Comfortably Numb. Not yet, at least. But, like the classics of literature, his music just (innocently, if I may say so) transcends one back to somewhere we’ve never been before; a place which nevertheless holds some sense of familiarity.
On the grand stage where God is a Woman, everybody is ‘Baby’ and Bad Blood flows freely, both Odell’s voice and his words bring the warmth of freshly baked bread on a cold winter morning.
The first notes of piano itself grab the breath and hold it. Heal, True Colors and Can’t Pretend are magic. It is so relieving to see a singer and songwriter— which, paired or individually, is associated with words and expression through words—honor silence and pace and in the 21st century. And these aren’t the popular ‘drops’ that have long been our favorite. These are deliberate pauses; like a scene form a classical romantic drama. These orchestrated pauses in the literary world would translate to a page long description of the shifting gaze of two lovers.
It is evident from his songs that his sheer love for music is the driving force. He abandoned university pans, at 18, to follow music and studied at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (where he played as part of a band—Tom and the Tides). While I do see the reasoning behind separating the art from the artist, the visible flow of their earnestness into their art does influence ones opinion concerning the quality of their work. But, with Odell’s songs, everything that propagates beauty just seems right.