Tom Odell is a 22-year-old from rural England who has followed in the footsteps of Adele, Emeli Sandé and Jessie J by picking up the Critics’ Choice award at the UK’s Brit Awards earlier this year. This accolade has led to front-row seats on catwalks, and Taylor Swift cosy-ups. In other words, Odell’s seat on the A-list bus is already reserved, with this debut album ensuring the blonde singer-songwriter’s ubiquity. It’s an accomplished and fully formed piano pop record that actually should have Chris Martin quaking in his natural-fibre boots.
A couple of cursory listens to single Another Love will have you humming it for the rest of the day. It is just one catchy track, however, from an album of earworm pop songs with profound undertones. Elton John tinkles are teamed with Jeff Buckley angst and Arcade Fire soaring choruses to create a break-up album that bypasses the brain and beelines straight for your heart. Listening to the rousing piano of Hold Me you can already picture the main stage festival sing-alongs and ‘big moment’ reality TV decisions. Grow Old With Me is chock-full of endearingly clichéd lines about pulling sheets over cold feet, and evokes youthful innocence rather than major label tinkering.
A few mid-album lulls expose Odell’s inexperience, but overall this is a debut that should keep him on the bus to stardom for many more stops to come. Well worth a listen. Clare Considine