Two years ago, when I worked at former digital radio station Amazing Radio, Tom Odell and his band Tom & the Tides were a staple of the airwaves with his song ‘Spider’. This was a towering choral number with serious pop sensibilities, so I didn’t quite recognise Odell’s signature ‘wall of vocal sound’ style from the delicate piano ballad that opens his Songs from Another Love EP, ‘Another Love’, until half way through the track, when the familiar vocal layers and boosted instrumentation of old kicks in.
But this restraint isn’t an admission of defeat – a giving up on one style to choose another – it’s a sign of a brooding maturity that earned Odell a record deal with Lily Allen’s label and is demonstrated best by third track ‘Can’t Pretend’, when the songwriter lets loose over a gear change that sees darkness give way to a joyful bridge and back again.
Once you’ve heard what he can do with his voice on this track, you can appreciate the subtlety of the softer moments on the previous two songs, as Odell masterfully soars over the acoustic accompaniment without belting both it and your ears into submission. He’s always singing of love, of course. Of losing it, wanting to finding it again but returning his thoughts to the former and finding it impossible to go back or forward; ‘All my tears have been used up/On another love’. With that voice, it’s hard to imagine him singing of anything else.
The EP ends with a demo, which can surely only be taken as a statement of intent; a presentation and teasing of potential. There’s currently a wave of bright young British things breaking through, having music featured on teen dramas across the back and back here; Daughter, Bastille (Dan Smith) and Kyla La Grange being three of the most notable. Odell is a welcome addition, who’ll be soundtracking future scenes of devastating heartbreak before you know it.
Words: Frankie Ward