Tom Odell’s newest album is a trip through 11 songs, sticking with the well-known sorrowful indie-pop tones, but stepping away from Odell’s typical style. This album goes more into a mainstream folky direction with more accompaniment, in comparison to past works which have featured mostly Tom Odell’s voice with only a piano as accompaniment.
The album beginner ‘Jubilee Road’ sounds jubilant in Odell’s sorrowful way, it is a dramatic, monumental ballad, juxtaposing its sorrowful accompaniment. A striking change to past albums in its wholesomeness of harmonies and diversity of instruments, without straying into the over-experimental. The third song ‘Son of an Only Child’ begins with some slightly bluesy snaps, followed by ‘You’re Gonna Break My Heart’, surprising with a saxophone solo alongside a show of Odell’s excellent control of vocals.
Like many of them, ‘Son of an Only Child’ is not a love song. Being “sick of singing ’bout my broken heart,” Odell sings about ‘China Dolls’ and the ‘Queen of Diamonds’ instead – the latter is a song sung with dramatic melancholy about a poker game in a casino. Because quite a few of the songs in his newest album are sung in the second person, Odell is forced to step away from previous patterns of singing about personal pain.
‘Go Tell Her Now’ gives advice to someone. It stands out in the album due to its volume, its beat, and the occasional almost jagged, staccato singing (although Odell cannot resist a sad interval in the song, of course). Odell tackles different topics clearly and concisely, while not losing metaphorical depth or poetic beauty. However, the poetic structure sometimes seems a bit clumsy, “It was never seen since Caribbean Islands” being used as a rhyme for “Oh and suddenly you pull the queen of diamonds”. It is, although, perhaps his bluntness that makes his charm.
Although Odell, as always, is singing sad songs, this album does not pull you down. In fact, I enjoyed listening to it while writing. Jubilee Road is an album for those who love the tragic love song, but would like to step away from the usual clichés associated with it.
[Image credit: DrewdeFFawkes/Flickr.com]