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

A Love Letter To Literature: Reading Gabo In 'The Paris Review'

Gabriel Garcia Marquez died Thursday. It would be hard to overstate the importance of his novels, but author Gustavo Arellano recommends getting to know him in a different medium.
NPR

In The Land Of Razor Clams, Dinner Hides Deep Within The Sand

Clam digging satisfies that primeval urge to go out into nature and find free food. And inveterate Washington state clam diggers admit they compete to get their daily limit of 15 clams.
NPR

Are Democrats Trying To Energize The Base With The Race Card?

Top Democrats have said recently that some GOP opposition to President Obama and his agenda is based on race. It's an explosive message that might drive Democratic voters to the polls.
NPR

Should College Dropouts Be Honored By Their Alma Maters?

From a Top Gun sequel starring drones to Howard University's pick of Puff Daddy as its commencement speaker, the Barbershop guys weigh in on the week's news.

Leave a Comment

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