Artist Spotlight: Tom Odell and genuine music from the heart

Today’s artist spotlight is on the singer-songwriter Tom Odell from Chichester, England.

Odell creates piano-driven music consisting of classic rock influences, yet with a youthfully modern vigor. His themes of love and relationships are universal and have a timeless feel to them when sung with his haunted and occasionally tortured tone. There is a sense of mature and introspective angst from the singer-songwriter.

His debut album, “Long Way Down,” was released in 2013 and features songs that cross-over between yearning for lost loves, like in “Another Love” and “I Know,” and optimism, heard in “Grow Old With Me” and “Long Way Down."

His lyrics meet somewhere in the middle between abstract and specific, but their themes coincide with the feelings the music evoke. They paint a tinted picture of a city with cobblestone streets, dusk approaching and a couple in love and then breaking up under the last few minutes of light. One of Odell’s unique aspects is the dark choir he features in most of his songs, like in “Can’t Pretend,” in which the background voices completely change the dynamic of the music. 

Fans of Billy Joel and Tom Waits will especially enjoy Odell’s music.

Although Odell has his share of upbeat moments, in a music climate of faster and faster tempos to grab the listener’s attention, he has an abnormally large repertoire of slower piano ballads, like in “Long Way Down,” in which he paints a picture singing, “Walking on the rooftops / Talking of times / with our eyes a glowing / like the city lights / She stands on the ledge; / She says, ‘It looks so high.’” There’s a deep nostalgia and story attached to his music.

His success – with over 90 million views on his “Another Love” music video on YouTube, major festival runs and features on the BBC – has served as an anomaly not to the scale of Adele, but an unusual feat for a piano-driven singer-songwriter in the modern age, nevertheless.

But Odell does not primarily create in order to top charts. In his sitdown with Interview Magazine, Odell said that he writes every day, but that many times it’s not an entire song that comes out. “It helps me sleep, writing songs. That's why it's important to write songs – otherwise, I can't sleep,” he said.

In terms of Odell’s passion for music as he gets older, he told Interview Magazine, “I find myself more affected by music the more I do it. Particularly when you're touring and you're in the bus and you're listening to loads of music. Life becomes far more dramatic, I guess – you're never in the same place, you're constantly meeting new people. You almost become more sensitized to music. I think [music] moves me more than other people. I can hear a song and it can bring me to tears. It doesn't happen the whole time, but I find songwriting – songs – very, very moving.”

Odell’s music is genuine and from the heart. There is not much that separates his true emotions from the audience, for much of his production is stripped down and bare with an acoustic piano and his voice as the driving force.

What you hear from Odell is pure thoughts and experiences containing all the dark twists and turns encompassed within such an immersive creation.


Brett Steinberg is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at brett.steinberg@uconn.edu. He tweets @OfficialBrett.