Long Way Down

Tom Odell

Columbia Records, 2013


REVIEW BY: Jeff Clutterbuck


One of the things I love about the age of digital music is just how easy it is to find new music. Not that it was necessarily difficult five, ten, twenty years ago, but these days it takes mere seconds to go down what I’ve labeled a “Related Artist Rathole.” There’s a great big musical world waiting to be discovered, and the only constraint is essentially your time

Long Way Down was released this past summer, and marks the first full-length studio recording for Tom Odell, whose previous recording history consisted of an EP titled Songs From Another Love (yeesh). Being a British singer/songwriter, as well as a piano player, Odell wears his major influences on his sleeve *cough Sir Elton cough,* but cannot even come close to reaching those heights.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The production is definitely pleasant enough throughout Long Way Down, but Odell has quite a long way to go in both aspects of being a singer/songwriter. In Odell’s defense, he is 22 and sometimes these things take time. There’s a certain image that he attempts to project on Long Way Down, but unfortunately no one is buying it. The world-weary, Coldplay-esque vocals don’t go very far, and in fact become quite distracting as the record goes on. It’s a halting, half-singing method of vocal delivery that keeps Odell from being able to effectively say what he wants to.

That, of course, is mere window dressing to the main problem: the songs just are no good. After giving this record multiple listens, there was not a single track that I found myself humming randomly four days later, or a tune that just wouldn’t leave my head for hours after hearing it. Sure, some albums take a while to grow into something special, but that isn’t the case here with Long Way Down. It’s ponderous song after ponderous song; each is cut from the same cloth and that means each is inherently boring.

I will highlight the best work on the record, which comes towards the end: “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today.” Odell’s voice is not well suited for gospel whatsoever, but the song itself has a strong gospel tinge, which gets even further highlighted with a few gentle, background flourishes that were very welcome. It was the only song to keep my interest from start to finish, and I’d love to see Odell try and bottle the magic contained therein.

The “Related Artist Rathole” is exciting, it promises something new, something that you may have never heard of previously, and were never going to otherwise. Of course, the problem is if what you find on the other side is actually worth your time. There’s always something to take away from an album or a song, but there are occasions when one has to really dig deep to find anything worth discussing. There were certainly things that Long Way Down had going for it, but when it comes down to it you just walk away completely unenthused about the musical experience.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2013 Jeff Clutterbuck and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Columbia Records, and is used for informational purposes only.