Tom Odell - Long Way Down

Not only does it feel like a one trick pony but this is surely one of the most self-indulgent records that will see the light of day in 2013.

Label: Columbia

Rating: 3

Tom Odell is, it seems, the ‘bright young thing’ of British music. Awarded the BRIT Awards Critics’ Choice and nominated for the ‘prestigious’ BBC Sound Of 2013 gong he has even been linked to American pop starlet Taylor Swift (although it feels these days that the list of who she hasn’t been linked to might be shorter). But is there much by way of artistry to back this praise? Much depth behind his lovely, shiny hair?

The most striking thing about Odell’s sonic arsenal is, without doubt, his voice. You suspect that in his head its shaky timbre is reminiscent of Conor Oberst, but in truth it more readily brings to mind the warble of Starsailor’s James Walsh. Over ‘Long Way Down”s ten track duration his delivery begins to feel like an affectation, a young man wilfully playing the poor lost boy and doing so in the sort of voice that a child might moan to his mother with when she won’t let him go to McDonald’s for tea.

That said, there are problems with this record beyond just Odell’s vocal style, namely that there is so little by way of rise and fall here that everything blurs into one beige, pulpy mess. With the possible exception of ‘Another Love’ and ‘Til I Lost’ this is an album that plods along in an alarmingly linear fashion with virtually no regard to musical light and shade rendering it an infuriating, soporific listen.

Not only does it feel like a one trick pony but this is surely one of the most self-indulgent records that will see the light of day in 2013. If someone were to count the number of times the first person pronoun is used here, then you suspect they would be nearly in treble figures. He cries, he shouldn’t call any more, he can’t pretend, he did not feel love until he lost - it goes on and on. It feels so self absorbed, so solipsistic and so ego driven that as a listener it is difficult to build any sense of affection or connection with Odell at all.

Make no mistake, this is V Festival, this is Olly Murs with a piano, this is not the saviour of British music on a global or domestic scale. Odell may well sell a lot of records (though long term, he may not) but as far as art to engage and inspire goes, ‘Long Way Down’ has precious little to recommend it.