Geographically, Tom Odell made his long way down from Chichester, West Sussex, England to Singapore – possibly his first time in Asia. Discography wise, it’s the title of his debut studio album release, following two EPs – Songs from Another Love and The Another Love EP.
At a current mere age of 22, Odell is already belting out emotionally charged self-composed songs surrounding topics like love and loss (but correction: not on his “inability to sustain a relationship with someone for longer than six months” – this was an analogy used on pondering journalists’ questions about the reasons why he wrote songs, he admitted in this interview). Besides that, he had partially grew up in New Zealand, been made redundant as a barman at a young age, and had his first major purchase of a racing green classic Mini Cooper stolen (plus having NME slammed his debut with a 0/10 rating), I took a chance to ask him if he had felt that he had an above-average experience growing up as compared with others, during his second roundtable interview session that afternoon held right in his hotel room.
(On the three highlighted events) “I think if you put those three things together, it does sound a bit outrageous, but they happened so far apart. I grew up in New Zealand – well, I didn’t grew up in New Zealand, I spent a year there when I was five. I don’t think I have friends or it has an effort on my life as I was quite young, but that was enjoyable though… I mean, I was just a terrible barman. I got made redundant from several jobs actually, that’s why I’m a songwriter, couldn’t find anything else to do… That (Mini Cooper) got stolen. That was out of my hands, I couldn’t have helped that.”
(On any different experience growing up) “Neh, I don’t know, I don’t think so. I don’t think my childhood is particularly that different. I grew up in a small town on the south coast of England – it’s pretty suburban where I grew up, and I think I did everything in my best efforts to have a wild childhood. I’ve never wanted to be normal; I’ve never wanted to have a 9-to-5 job; I never wanted to go to school and just come back to watch TV. I’ve always aspired to get out and do something. I always wanted – I like a life full of drama, you know, I like the highs and the lows. I like this job you know – one day, you can feel like you’re rock bottom, because it feels like things are against you, and the other day, you know you can be on top of the world, because you have a #1 album or something like that. It’s very rocky, very extreme. But I find I enjoy life like that, makes me feel alive.”
Appearing through the side door of his adjacent hotel room, Odell looked young and fresh with this whole new experience of touring and interview sessions outside of his comfort zone back home. He stayed keen on receiving questions from our end of the room – this despite the likelihood of repetitive ones derived from journalists all around the world, though there were quite numerous occasions of uncertainties in his answer deliveries (“I don’t know” appeared rather often here and there). He arranged his hair and placed his hand in his emptied cup during the short and timely-watched interview, showing a slight playful side to the arranged neatness of the interview and the room.
That slightly alternate wild side of Odell also showed during his showcase at Tab that night, when he and his band closed the 9-songs set with a rocked out rendition of “Cruel”, showing a little diversity into his set of mostly piano ballads to soothe the midweek night into a slow pace. The venue was packed mostly of media representatives and some female fans, as Odell and his record label management continued with his streak of promotional activities globally.
As expected, his hit singles were well received by the audience, from the gig opener “Grow Old With Me” to the highlight of the event “Can’t Pretend” (where he sang his pipes out a little too fast in the showcase, being the second song of the night) to “Hold Me” and the one well-recognized smash “Another Love” that everyone was awaiting for, though he had sounded a little worn out by the time this popular number came about. Another notable delivery was “Sense”, where it was merely himself, his piano melodies, his vocals and unfortunately some loud bar banter of the working class generation. The rest of the songs somehow gelled themselves one way or another, and it was hard to find them any distinctive from the others. Conclusively, it was an average performance, with minor basic interactions and shy side glances to the peering eyes gathered below.
1. Grow Old With Me
2. Can’t Pretend
5. I Know
6. Supposed To Be
7. Another Love
8. Hold Me
When asked on one person that influenced him outside of the music world, it was his beloved uncle. “That’s a nice question. I would say my uncle, who’s an interesting character – is a wild character. He’s done an awful lot of things with his life, he’s lived a very intriguing life, and actually was the person – when I was about seventeen, eighteen, there was a moment – I think down will be too strong of a word – there was a moment when there was a decision for me – down whether will I have enough money and live off music as a career, and he was the person that told me I could, and was just an inspiring person, and lucky to have someone like that in my family.”
Concert Rating: 6/10
A special thank you to Sony Music Entertainment Singapore for their arrangements.