I must admit, I was surprised when it was announced that Tom Odell was to be this year’s recipient of the Brits Critics’ Choice Award. With the list of previous winners including Adele, Emeli Sandé and Ellie Goulding, he stands out immediately, and not only because he is male! His songs are much less “pop” than those of previous holders of the coveted trophy, and I’m pleased that the Brits are promoting more independent music. Odell’s latest offering, released late March, a fortnight before his debut album Long Way Down, is much louder – stronger, even – than his earlier singles. Hold Me is incredibly emotionally-driven, his signature piano almost drowned out by his sometimes fragile yet here ardent vocals. What it lacks in the swelling choral harmonies of Another Love and Can’t Pretend is made up for in the punchy instrumentation that’s distinct from the start. It’s bold, it’s impressive, and most of all it’s different.