The surge in popularity following the use of British musician Tom Odell’s “Another Love” track in Burberry’s SS13 runway show is evident from the response of the online community. Like others who had been mesmerized by the track as they watched models in cream capes glide down the catwalk, I streamed “Another Love” on repeat, anticipating the release of Odell’s EP, Songs From Another Love, released at the end of October. Characterized by hauntingly romantic lyrics of bygone loves, the collection of songs wear the mark of Odell’s personal experiences and passions, that have the endearing quality of separating themselves from cliché.
In response to the positive feedback his EP has released, Odell modestly declares, “It’s been amazing getting that reaction, but I am surprised. But, at the same time, I have been working really hard at my music since I was 13 years old. So for me, it feels like a more natural progression, where as from outside, it kind of seems like I sprung out of nowhere…but for me I haven’t.”
So where did 21 year-old Tom Odell exactly spring from? It began with a show of determination to play the piano at the age of seven. Surprisingly, his parents had bought his sister piano lessons and not him. It was his Grandma that bought him lessons later on after had he had expressed the desire to play. Odell has been playing the piano ever since.
His first steps onto the British music scene were in Brighton, where he moved at the age of 18, and began attending open mic nights with his keyboard. For Odell, the experience was on the demoralizing side as he shares, but from the difficulty he “gained the ability to perform in front of people that aren’t listening.” He explains, “People don’t really want to watch you, especially in Brighton, and I guess it is a really grueling process. But, at the same time, you’re finding out which songs work and which songs [don’t]. The audience is so critical, you know it was amazing to get any reaction at all out of them. If you did get a reaction, you knew you were doing something right.”
Tom Odell obviously did do something right; after all, he managed to catch the eye of Christopher Bailey. His relationship with Burberry began when Bailey contacted Odell’s management, leading to his performance at the Burberry World Live Tour in Taipei last April.
Currently on a sold-out tour with Jake Bugg, all eyes and ears are on the newcomer. Ever Seeking inspiration from his surroundings, the tour is sure to provide Odell with new material for future songs. During our phone conversation — Odell speaking from London; his new home — the singer touches upon how his environment works its way into his music. “I find every city inspires a different kind of song. A lot of the album has been written in London, and is quite inspired by being in such a big city, at times it being quite daunting. And you know, with there just being so many people here, it can get quite lonely.” While large and overwhelming it sometimes may be, the artist gushes that he has even still “fallen completely in love with London.”
Despite echos of lonely city life, and the sorrows of past loves, Odell’s songs are by no means weighed down by sadness. The beauty of the passion in “Another Love” is shiver inducing, while the track “Can’t Pretend” has an energy and power behind it that balances the calmness found in “Sense” on the EP. As a whole, they are uplifting in their soulful melody.
After referring to Odell as the “piano man,” as written on his Facebook and Twitter, he bashfully says, “I don’t know why I wrote the ‘piano man,’ I just like playing the piano.” One listen to his EP, and it’s clear: the moniker suits him. Curious about his other instrumental talents, I inquire about a photo of him lying on a hardwood floor surround by music sheets and a guitar. I ask what role the guitar plays in our piano man’s creative process, to which he unexpectedly replies, “Literally, a guitar was lying around, and it just happened to be there [for the photo]. I am actually really bad at the guitar. For ten years I have tried to get good at guitar, but I just can’t. I can play the guitar, and I do often play it in my sort of creative [process] — when I am writing a song, I may pick-up the guitar.”
Honest on top of modest, Odell has the added charm of a healthy sense of humor. As he jokes, his guitar also comes in handy when crossing the border while on tour, “Its quite difficult to take a piano around the world with you, or through customs. Quite tricky!”
A musician that writes from the heart, Odell is private in conversation where he is open in lyrics “All my songs are about personal experiences.” Without elaborating any further, its only through a close listen to the raw emotion in his voice that one understands from where the passion of his lyrics — and of Odell’s first EP — has sprung, and what a bewitching place it is.
Posted November 19, 2012