Odette Michell

Live Review | Roots Music Club, Doncaster | Review by Allan Wilkinson

Once again, the Roots Music Club in Doncaster provided a fitting platform for yet another debut appearance by a relatively new voice to the area. Singer songwriter Odette Michell arrived fully equipped with a couple of guitars, a guitar-shaped bouzouki, a laptop-shaped shruti box and a confident voice that will undoubtedly be remembered by those who came along tonight. Last year saw the release of Odette’s debut album, The Wildest Rose and some of those songs came out to play, including the title song, a stomping folk rock anthem to encourage the crowd to sit back and take note. Born in Yorkshire of Irish heritage, Odette appeared both confident and composed, whilst selecting the best of her own original songs, together with one or two from the tradition and the occasional iconic masterpiece, no doubt learned from the singing of Nic Jones, Sandy Denny and Paul Brady. 

There’s no simple accompaniment to Odette’s arrangements on either guitar or bouzouki, with her spider-like fingers frequently traversing the dusty end of the fretboard, without missing a single beat. Her voice itself could easily carry these songs with simpler accompaniment, but Odette strives to negotiate complex chord structures to showcase the fruits of her own labour. The audience was treated to the brand new “Song for the Birds”, the slightly older “Banks of the Annlea” and the opening song “After the Hurricane”, from the By Way of Night EP, where for some, the name Odette Michell was first heard. The audience was also very much reminded of the heady days when the likes of Planxty rolled into our town many years ago, delivering a lilting take on “The Jolly Beggar”, with Odette citing Andy Irvine as a major influence. That same audience warmed to this returning Yorkshire-born native and was soon eating out of her hand.

The second set brought more goodies, not least the “Rolling Shores of England”, for which the singer employed the talents of Phil Beer on the recorded version, “The Great Old Northern Line”, a fine engaging song set around Camden Town and a humble nod towards Paul Metsers with a pretty fabulous “Farewell to the Gold”, going on to almost apologise for the inclusion of Sandy Denny’s much loved and consequently much covered “Who Knows Where the Time Goes”. Odette momentarily claimed the song for herself, treating it with the respect people have come to expect. If Sandy Denny, Andy Irvine and Daoiri Farrell are placed high on Odette’s hero totem, then Paul Brady is also there, as the Roots Club’s special guest returned to the stage to complete the evening’s programme with a faithful reading of “The Lakes of Pontchartrain”. No longer a ‘kind stranger’, Odette Michell will no doubt be made welcome in Donny, any time she wishes to return.