This is a big record.
Although despite the grandeur that unfurls, Jubilee Road shuffles into the first and title track with gentle keys – setting the scene of Tom Odell’s own ‘Eleanor Rigby’ ode to London, albeit one with a sprinkle of Martin Amis.
It’s been over two years since Odell’s last LP, and five since his debut. Not that we’re counting. But the staggering of artistic expression requires some chronology, and what do you do after your 88 fingers have been shaken, stamped on, and poked into screens across the pond and back again. Twice. You go home or you go big. Jubilee Road does both.
The album’s second track, and it’s lead single, the f-word infused ‘If You Wanna Love Somebody’ (even the radio play) continues to ramp things up – bringing a gospel undercurrent to a Jackson Browne flavored call to the heart. It’s a little obvious, to a cynic like myself, but I can see it covered in enough Christmas and Jamie Cullem sideways glances to do alright without me.
Then the storytelling returns with ‘Son of an Only Child’, in a track the seethes with what I can only presume is honesty. Or a fucking, good, lie. I’ll admit, it’s my favourite from the album – due in part to a steady melody that grows from a shadow to a monster, but more so because I know that bar. I know me in that bar, listening to that man and forming cannonballs to throw at strangers within reaching distance. I believe the frustration, the maudlin anger; I believe this track. So, I believe the album. Plus the lyrical hat tip to Taupin/John is a nice touch – and one better owned that brought to the floor by cynics like me.
Jubilee Road continues to bounce from self-effacing laments, to the dissection of a broken world we all tip toe through. Or round. Or away from. But the backbone of confident ivory, high octane vocals and visceral lyrics keeps this album from ever falling short – with the flows outweighing the ebbs in a comparison barrage of Tom Waits-meets-Elton John-at-a-Billy Joel-barbeque.
The obligatory label mate duet is well delivered on ‘Half as Good as You’, with Alice Merton sounding more like Florence Welch that Florence Welch. And even if Tom Odell is “tired of eating breakfast on my own,” it seems to make for some pretty good source material. Heaven help album four if the lad finds true love.
But the (second) best is saved until last, and whilst my mum is still alive I do have an older sister and the understanding of vicarious pride. Odell’s open diary/songbook is what makes Jubilee Road flourish and no more so than in its closing track, ‘Wedding Day’. It’s heartbreaking. It’s honest. It made me cry. And to round off my somewhat clunky framing technique, it’s the flashlight through the mist that sails this LP home.
‘Wedding Day – Tom Odell (live at Rough Trade NYC)
On Friday 12th October, Tom Odell releases Jubilee Road – out via Columbia Records. For more on Tom Odell, including link to online sales, visit www.tomodell.com
Tom Odell will be playing at the O2 Academy Birmingham on 21st October, as part of his Jubilee Road Tour. For more gig information, and links to online tickets sales, visit www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academybirmingham/tom-odell-tickets
For more from Columbia Records, visit www.columbia.co.uk
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