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His first full-length album, Long Way Down, came out June 24th, yet Tom Odell has already made quite the name for himself. The British folk-rocker won this year’s BRIT Critic’s Choice Award (previously won by successful artists like Ellie Goulding, Adele, and Florence and the Machine), and played at South by Southwest. Pretty impressive for a 22 year-old guy who was just broke into the music scene last year. But when Odell stopped by the WERS studio to play a couple songs for On the Verge, he proved to us he has the talent to become a permanent member of the music world.
Before the mix, Odell sat at the piano in the studio, politely thanking us for having him and focusing on getting the perfect sound from the instrument. He and his bass guitarist, Max, ran through their songs and discussed soccer. Not too long ago, Odell was a struggling musician playing whatever gigs he could get in Chichester and London. He got lucky when one of Lily Allen’s friends saw him play in a club and told her about his music. Soon after, Allen signed him to her label. Odell praised Allen, saying “She is so great to work with. She completely lets me do my thing.”
Odell first performed “Another Love,” his most popular single. The piece is a passionate break-up song that builds and swells with a driving intensity. Odell’s voice especially stands out, combining a youthful innocence and vocal power that grabs the attention of any listener. Later, Odell says this is currently his favorite song to perform live. “It has been really cool recently that people know “Another Love” and know all the lyrics. It’s a particularly amazing feeling when people sing back to you. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of. It’s a great feeling to perform that song.”
The second song of the set was “Hold Me.” The recorded version of the tune is upbeat, but Odell choose to play it at a slower tempo this time. He took the opportunity to show off his skill on piano, and the end result turned out to be beautiful and haunting.
When discussing his accomplishments thus far, Odell is humble. “I wouldn’t say I am a success yet. But it’s nice to know people are liking the music. We’re doing a lot of gigs, like it’s our first time coming to America and we’ve been getting to play festival shows. But it’s not particularly glamorous.” He seems like a musician who has his feet on the ground, which continues to comes across when he describes what we can expect from Long Way Down. “I was definitely aiming for a kind of honesty. That was the thing I really wanted to get across. Lyrically, I tried to write the most honest and raw songs that I could.”
Odell will be touring across the United States and Europe for the next six months. For those who want to see him live, check out his website and personal blog.