Filed Under:

Tom Odell: A Polarizing New Voice Shows Promise

Play associated audio

When Tom Odell received the 2013 BRIT Critics' Choice Award in February, his career looked to be on the fast track. Previous winners of the award, which recognizes a promising newcomer, include the megastar Adele. Just weeks after the win, a critic at the music weekly NME gave Odell's album a rare zero-star review, describing him as a "poor misguided wannabe." So, who's right?

This much is for sure: Tom Odell is a type — the somewhat fragile, sensitive soul who sings busted-apart love songs while hunched over a piano. Musically, he travels in the same lane as bands like Coldplay, and describes heartbreak using big, anthemic chords.

His songs can feel fervent and calculated at the same time; the melody in "Sense" may not be terribly daring, and the words describe a fairly ordinary moment in the arc of a love affair. Still, there's something arresting and vulnerable about the way Odell sings it.

Most of the album isn't quite this raw — and, as a result, not as riveting. Perhaps that's why some in the British press groan about Tom Odell as the latest dismaying example of paint-by-numbers pop music. Sure, he's working within the lines of an established template. But once in a while, sometimes for just a measure or two, he slips out of the familiar to offer a moment of unguarded, transcendent beauty. If he can manage a whole record of those, he'll really be someone to watch.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

The Glimmering Sheen Of A Wide World Seen From Inside A Bubble

The teen heroine of Nicola Yoon's debut novel, Everything, Everything, has a disorder that bars her from leaving her house. Still, her world is vast, filled with writings, drawings — and new love.
NPR

Correction: Italians And Celiac Disease

A correction to our story about gluten-free options in Italy, the land of pizza and pasta. Italian children are not routinely tested for celiac disease, as we incorrectly reported.
WAMU 88.5

America's Tolerance For Gun Violence

There are more gun-related deaths in America than in any other industrialized nation. We discuss what makes the U.S. different and why some hold out hope that change is possible.

NPR

China Arrests Nearly 200 Over 'Online Rumors'

The rumors ranged from a man leaping to his death in Beijing over stock losses to highly inflated death tolls in the Tianjin industrial blasts.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.