In an era of mainly Trap and House bops, our Sussex lad Tom Odell is back with his third album Jubilee Road. As expected, accompanied by his keyboard through every single song, a duo that should be considered part of the national heritage.
Although there is nothing more than tenderness and simplicity at first glimpse of its cover, when you dive in its tracks you find out that Tom is never that simple and Jubilee Road is not an exception. This recent release was made very intimate, written about his experiences and his surroundings while he was living in East London. As a clear example, the first song “Jubilee Road”, named after the album, has a narrative lyrics which starts with a voyeur attitude on his neighbourhood, where he later starts taking part in the harmoniously singed storytelling.
Backup voices appear in many of the songs as a recurrent weapon, although it is in ‘If You Wanna Love Somebody’ where he amazes us with the presence of a gospel choir accompanying his mellifluous voice in a successful attempt to show himself emotionally naked and his chest wide open. A feeling repeated in “You Are Going to Break My Heart Tonight”, in which he’s exposed alone with his piano, also backed by the sound of a saxophone by the end of the track giving a slight essence of jazz.
His featuring with Alice Merton for “Half as Good as You” reaches the next level of sincere softness, becoming the ideal heir of Ed Sheeran and Beyoncé’s “Perfect Duet”, while with “Go Tell Her Now” he narrates another story, simulating the chatter and buzz from a bar where he’s live performing. This one adds a taste of Tom’s versatility, including a different sound in the album that might make you jam at some point.
Tom Odell has demonstrated he is a very talented songwriter in today’s music industry. During “Don’t Belong in Hollywood” he projects a clear message to the listener talking about fake expectations, social media and the flaws of today’s lifestyle overall; compared to the idealised image of role models and Hollywood. I believe this is just one of the many examples of the depth that can be found within his three full-length albums’ lyrics.
The variety of genres that inspired Tom for the creation of this brainchild is splashed through the whole album. ‘China Dolls’ is where most of them have dabbled and are shown, but I reckon that was not really a fortunate result. Its mixture of different beats causes a cluttered sound sometimes becoming a bad company for his voice. This can be justified in some way. He wouldn’t make these mistakes if he just stayed in his comfort zone, although the risk hasn’t been really remarkable.
Overall, I personally like Jubilee Road, but I believe this is a very enjoyable album that was made to please only Tom Odell’s current fans, and just them. He is still walking the same line. He didn’t bother to step in any different ground from his previous releases, which is a pity since Tom was expected to show the audience what else he is capable to do.