The young British musician, all of 22, already has awards, acclaim and a classic break-up song to his name.
For nine months in 2011, Tom Odell locked himself in a room in east London to write his debut album, Long Way Down. But there were some distractions. “There was this place on Brick Lane where you could get toy helicopters for £15. If you get two, you have, like, kind of wars.” Between that and dinners at the local curry house, it’s a miracle he got anything done at all. “But I also wrote songs,” he insists.
Good job too, as Odell’s label, In The Name Of, an imprint of Columbia records run by Lily Cooper (née Allen), were paying for him to be there. Cooper wasn’t the only one to notice Odell’s talent. First there was a teacher at his school in Chichester, Simon Skinner, who encouraged him to write songs when he was in his teens; then there was Christopher Bailey of Burberry, who used Odell’s “Another Love” to open his London Fashion Week show last September; and Jools Holland, who invited him on to perform on his TV show, Later…, two months after that.
Given that Odell is a piano man (aged seven, he convinced his parents to give him the lessons that they’d arranged for his sister), was he hoping Holland might sidle up next to him for a sesh? “Yeah, er. I dunno. I wonder if the boogie-woogie style would have worked on ‘Another Love’…” he shrugs, “I love Jools. Of all the things that have happened, that’s probably been my highlight.”
And though 2013 is only just under way, he’s already won the Brits Critics Choice Award and topped MTV’s Brand New for 2013 shortlist, so it looks like Odell is going to have plenty more highlights to choose from.