Jubilee Road tells the story of Tom Odell’s time living in East London. Jubilee Road is a fictional street, made up for the sake of his old neighbours against the fans who would make the pilgrimage to the singer’s old home if they knew its location. The album is expansive and sorrowful mostly, joyful occasionally. It has a remarkable lived in quality, feeling like the house itself. The stories intertwine to fit this narrative, each like framed picture on a wall.
Odell told the Evening Times that writing Jubilee Road was unlike anything he’d done before: “I was sitting in the living room of this house and it was very different in that the second album I wrote all over the place. It felt quite centred this one, it was all about one very specific period of time and one very specific location.”
Opening eponymous track ‘Jubilee Road’ links up to the final track, pacing a whole life in an album. Odell talks about listening to the old widower across the street about his life on ‘Jubilee Road’ and then finale ‘Wedding Day’ links back to it. This storytelling ability always has been one of Tom Odell’s strong suits.
It seems obvious that ‘If You Wanna Love Somebody’ would be the lead single from Jubilee Road. It is Tom Odell down to a tee, you could put it on his previous album The Wrong Crowd and it wouldn’t sound out of place. However, ‘China Dolls’ takes the first step for Jubilee Road into uncharted territory, moving away from the piano and to the guitar, for the verse anyway. The grand production surrounding Odell’s vocals feels very false and out of place, almost making the song a show tune.
‘Half as Good as You’ proves that Odell really cut his teeth with poppier songs on The Wrong Crowd ,giving him the chance to shine on more upbeat hits. It’s the delicate balance of bittersweet, the song telling a story of two lovers not quite able to move on. ‘Go Tell Her Now’ furthers this pop sound without being overly embellished as ‘China Dolls’ is.
‘Wedding Day’ closes the album and weaves together the joy and the sadness that shroud the songs on this album. It talks about the joy of a hopeful future that follows a wedding but about the regret of people moved on. Lines like “I’ll save the best one for the second dance” capture how succinctly Tom Odell can conjure up an entire feeling in just a single line.
Overall, Jubilee Road is warm and inviting. Whilst the production and band arrangement may not be anything to write home about in terms of Tom Odell’s past work, his songwriting is new. It’s a soul baring experience that you can’t forget. The songs are a rich tapestry, and to unravel it is to step inside Odell’s life on Jubilee Road.
Jubilee Road is out now on Columbia.