Singer, songwriter and guitarist Odette plays the Empire Hall, Graffham on November 17 on the back of her acclaimed debut album A Shake of the Hand.
She promises a fresh and uplifting blend of R&B, folk, world and pop that has already attracted rave reviews. For Graffham, she will be accompanied by a quartet of musicians on guitar, bass, drums/percussion, oud and violin.
“The album has actually been out a little while, a few months, maybe a year, but I released it myself and it went a bit under the radar. It was kind of released and not released. After the album came out, it was a long time before I got the band together. When I finally got the band together, that was really when the album was released in the sense that that was when people started hearing it. People started knowing what it sounded like.”
Odette admits the album was a long time coming.
“I was just writing the songs as they came. I didn’t honestly intend to write an album. I was just writing the songs as they came to me over about eight or nine years. I was writing it all very ad hoc.”
But the crucial moment came when she met Phil Taylor who went on to produce her. Things were complicated by the fact that Odette was going backwards and forwards working the cruise ships: “But I came back and happened to have a few songs that I played to Phil, and he said ‘You should do an album.’ My first thought was ‘Oh gosh, that is going to cost a lot of money.’ But I had been working on the ships and I hadn’t actually gone and blown all my money in the cruise bar! And by linking up with Phil, he produced the album. By working with him, I discovered so much more about myself. He was very instrumental in making it a success. We just worked together very well and he was able to bring out a lot about myself. He was very good and very patient.”
As for the music: “In terms of style, well, I have listened to a lot of music but I have also spent a lot of time not listening to any music. I think I have managed to draw on so many influences that people will hear different things and some people will say they can hear one thing and other people will say they can hear something else. I think in the end it is music that is unmistakably me. I have not latched on to any one particular style.
“I just want a real mix. I want to create music that is fresh and uplifting. I wanted world music. It is not stuck in a box. I have got some Indian themes on there. In the band there is an oud player. There is a classical violinist. I am wanting to include lots of different things.
“On the first album, I was doing a lot of growing up, as you do. There were things happening in my life that I was questioning and things happening elsewhere. I was wanting to find out about myself. I was just wanting to look at a deeper level. I wrote a song called Things. It is just about questioning what is right and what is wrong. Is there right and is there wrong? There is another song that is just about confusion in life and about what is really going on. There is another song which about feeling love within yourself.”
After a three and a half years on the cruise ships, Odette is now done with cruising, she says: “It is what you make it. I absolutely loved it. I taught myself to play the guitar and I was writing songs. Other people can get into a certain culture that is not very good for your health… the drink. It flows and it flows, especially if you are entertaining guests. But I managed to avoid most of that!”