So soon, so soon after playing one of his songs as a “single”, I can’t help but write about this EP by young, oh so young songwriter Tom Odell. I know it’s not necessarily the highest-brow material I’ve written about, but it hits so many right notes with me that I’m really quite alarmingly close to feeling overwhelmed by the emotional reaction I have to his music. Let’s see if I can convey the same vibe to you good people.
I must admit, I am a ridiculous softy sometimes, especially when music brings it out of me. I see the human heart as a vacuum surrounded by ever-thickening walls made of ever-friable materials, just aching to buckle and implode, and music – in this case Tom Odell’s music – gnaws at the fragile balance, rakes at the sandstone walls, bores its way through and somehow, gently, sweetly, leads the structure to the point of collapse. I haven’t been listening to artists who have this effect on me lately, not only because I try to avoid the sickly sweet state of catatonia which becomes so tempting with every second of their music I indulge in, but also because there aren’t many of them, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not going to name them here because it’s probably the most motley, insufferably mongreled list you’ll ever read. Suffice to say, it’s not the kind of list which grows easily and which one can subject to the census of reason. Tom Odell made his way on that list of mine with four songs, gathered on his debut EP.
He’s probably the youngest songwriter I know, save perhaps for Daniela Andrade, of whom I’ve written twice before (incidentally, she’s on that list as well), but he reminds me of so many songs I used to listen to obsessively so long ago, while also somehow managing to circumvent the inevitable jadedness, that I can’t help feel a certain amount of awe at his intensity. I love his accent, I love his “older-than-it-ought-to-be” voice, his vibrato – Starsailor, anyone? -, the simplicity of his songwriting – the good kind, the kind you don’t get bored by, the kind that stories have, when told well – and the briefness of the record he chose to make his entrance with. A four-song EP, by a boy. I can see how annoying it can sound at first glance. Well, it doesn’t sound pretentious, it doesn’t bite off more than it can chew, it doesn’t beat its chest in adolescent bravado. It’s an understated work of brilliance, soaring as the gospel backing vocals kicking in at just the right times, truly intense, without being hysterical or dark.
His full-length LP, “Long Way Down”, is on the way and I suspect it will be one of the records of the year for me. I’ll post “Can’t pretend” again, because I can’t not post it. It’s a different version, from the Jonathan Ross show. Listen to it and tell me it doesn’t hold the same sweeping, earth-shaking power that Rob Dougan could muster on some of the songs on “Furious Angels”. There’s really not much more I can say after that reference. Enjoy!