If this doesn’t put you in a warm, fuzzy holiday mood, I don’t know what will.
It’s been a bit of a rough year for many of us, and the news doesn’t seem to be getting any better. It was a happy surprise, then, when Tom Odell’s first Christmas offering showed up. And let me tell you: It’s the perfect remedy for what ails all of us.
Three of the five songs here are originals, which means they sound like Tom Odell numbers that happen to be about the holidays. The title track, a BBC Live Session, kicks things off with handclaps and Odell’s honeysmooth vocals. He sets the scene of strung mistletoe and lit candles, and places himself, alone, amid the holiday cheer. When it all kicks in, there’s a bit of a “Run Run Rudolph” ’50s guitar vibe, which gives way to collaborative vocals on the refrain. He throws in a couple lines of “Jingle Bells” before stripping away the instrumentation and giving us a cappella harmonies.
The disc’s single “Silhouette” is upbeat and playful, with a classic Tom Odell bridge and refrain. Piano is front and center, and head shakes and foot taps are mandatory. The piano on “Real Love” is plaintive, Odell’s voice up front like an old, sad troubadour. It’s easy to visualize him at the piano in an atrium fully decked out for Christmas, warm glows and ornamented trees and the scent of cinnamon apples. The strings give the sparse song a yearning depth.
Two more BBC Live Sessions follow, the classics “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Silent Night.” On the former, it’s all about Odell’s rich, reaching voice, the keys relegated to the background. If this doesn’t put you in a warm, fuzzy holiday mood, I don’t know what will. It’s hard to go wrong with “Silent Night,” which of course Odell doesn’t. His version is reverent, spare, aching, a song to send you out into that good night. | Laura Hamlett