Odette has been hovering in the ether of the internet for some time. Having been working on To A Stranger since she was seventeen and now aged twenty one, this is a genuine coming-of-age record that captures the melancholic, self-indulgent confusion of leaving childhood behind and fine-tunes it into a soulful, spacious collection of powerful pop ballads.
The main event here is Odette’s whopping set of lungs. Coupled with Damien Taylor’s (Bjork, Arcade Fire) production, the sparse instrumentation skilfully draws attention to the space between notes, letting you focus on the lyrical meditations and Odette’s soaring vocals.
Opening track ‘Collide’ begins with three lush minor chords from a grand piano, and you can just make out the echo of her foot on the pedal, sliding you straight into the room with her. The lyrical hook, “the simplest touch leaves a burn on me”, is just the beginning of a rundown of familiar pop themes- the ecstatic highs and desperate lows of first love, feelings of emotional insecurity and confusion told through a recurring use of the elements, representing the physicality of love.
In some ways the clean, expensive production takes away from the rawness of her live show that sets Odette apart from your average pop starlet. Standout track ‘Lotus Eaters’ manages to capture some of this rawness. Spoken word (a brave choice, and Odette’s lyrics withstand) is woven with a frantic vocal melody and charismatic rolling piano as she laments, “hurricanes can wash away the sins that you perceive as to be sins…my sins are spots and curls and skin”. Ah, puberty!
Too often we assume a pop star’s image, their lyrics and their music are carefully curated by a team of PR suits in a boardroom, Whilst I’m sure Odette has some suits of her own, and she may not be singing a tune we haven’t heard before, she is authentic. And in pop music, that is a rarity.