OTW #476: Tom Odell

Rich, multi-layered vocals over a haunting, melodic backdrop
OTW #476: Tom Odell

“Writing songs keeps me sane. If I wasn’t doing that I’d go crazy, literally.” This statement sounds rather dramatic. But perhaps if you’re Tom Odell, a young singer-songwriter with soul-bearing lyrics, and rapturous pipes, this feeling is intrinsic.

Enthusiasm isn’t the right word to describe the classically trained pianist: passionate, precocious, cerebral. When asked about a memorable verse from a song, poem or literature, he’s able to recite a line from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby with ease, and can go on about the genius of Bob Dylan and David Bowie - naturally. “What’s amazing about a song is once it’s there, it’s there forever. It’s written. It’s mortal.” ­

Contrary to what he sings about (or how he sings it), the heaviness is balanced with light-hearted humour. He insists he enters into a realm of intensity when writing, whether it’s about unrequited love after investing into an endless cycle of past heartbreak. “[My songs are] hugely autobiographical; for me, I don’t really have a divide between the song and who I am, and that comes at a cost, I think.” The best writing can come from naked vulnerability being on full display. Yet, a lot has changed since the twenty-two-year-old was a struggling artist. The days of small-scale venues in Brighton, while etched in his memory, are a distant cry from sixteen-hour studio sessions, endless red carpet interviews and world tours for the likes of Burberry (‘Another Love’ was hand-picked by Christopher Bailey for the brand’s Spring/Summer 2013 runway). Despite his burgeoning status, his strongest connection remains with his devotees. “What’s amazing is seeing people doing covers of ‘Another Love’ on YouTube. It’s really interesting, and I love that.”

While Odell’s contemporaries revel in the spotlight, his interests lay in lyrical craftsmanship. “When I recorded the album I just did, everything was done before I got into the studio.” He explains, “I wanted to do it like that. I wrote eighty songs for the record and went to the studio with twenty-five of them, we recorded twenty of them and it’s a ten-track record.”

Tom Odell might be a humble fella, but he’s subconsciously moulding his culture right up there with the greatest. Watch this space.

Words: Safra Ducreay
Photography: Neil Bedford
Hair & Grooming: Gary Gill for Monroe using Wella Professional & MAC Pro


Where: London
What: Rich, multi-layered vocals over a haunting, melodic backdrop
Get 3 songs: ‘Another Love’, ‘Sense’, ‘Grow Old With Me’
Unique fact: He was once within close proximity of the living legend Leonard Cohen, but couldn’t muster the words to say anything.

Shirt By Supremebeing, T-Shirt By American Apparel

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