BEST NEW TRACKS: TOM ODELL - JUBILEE ROAD
Tom Odell's "Jubilee Road" is a slice-of-life from a terraced neighborhood in East London.
Most people tend to think of the United States when you mention "the melting pot." London is every bit as much of a crucible, if not more so, and increasingly so with each passing year. England's capitol is a beguiling, mesmerizing mixture of English, Irish, Welsh, Middle Eastern, Arabic, African, and any other demographic you could imagine. Pakistani immigrants might rub shoulders with Haitians and fallen British aristocrats.
London is dripping with life. It's sodden with stories, more saturated than the richest Texas soil is with crude oil. That's just taking into account the currently living. Considering London's history, it's no wonder it's considered one of the most haunted cities on Earth.
This rich, teeming seam of life and stories ran beneath London's surface, like one of its infamous lost rivers, for much of the city's history. Traditionally, England has been an even more intense case of "the haves" and "the have-nots," with an even heftier dose of classism and status. That's part of why the works of Charles Dickens were so influential and so incendiary. The lives of ordinary people simply were not commented upon.
Tom Odell's "Jubilee Road" peels back the layers of time, status, and society to imagine the lives of an ordinary London neighborhood, based off his time living in a terraced East London neighborhood.
TOM ODELL - JUBILEE ROAD
According to Odell, "Jubilee Road" was "written on a late friday night in autumn, with the moon bright and the street below covered with a carpet of golden leaves." Musically, Odell mirrors that bright moonlight with open, strident, emotional piano chords, serving as a perfect setting for the crown jewels of Odell's sensitive, meditative lyrics.
"Jubilee Road" sounds a lot like '70s piano-driven singer-songwriter fare like Randy Newman with just a bit more Leonard Cohen gravitas. It's more modern, more experimental and avant-garde at the same time, bringing to mind the tragic miniature psychodramas of the late, lamented Vic Chesnutt or a less snarky Father John Misty, to pick a more accessible reference point.
Tom Odell is truly doing the good work, offering sensitive, thoughtful reflection on the lives of ordinary people without fetishizing or tokenizing them. This is no Mumford & Sons escapist retrophilia, no viewing the past through rosy lenses. No, this is simply looking at the world around yourself and letting it inspire your imagination, which is what folk-inspired music ought to do. We Are: The Guard couldn't be happier to hear high-quality, top-shelf indie pop with such a weighty message that still doesn't come off as preachy or hokey. We simply can't wait to hear the rest of the stories!
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.