Erik Odsell – Human – Album Review
When I originally first reviewed Erik Odsell’s music back in 2016 with the release of his debut record Searching For Lost Boys Island, it was impossible to deny the man had himself a very strong connection to music and was definitely heading into a verifiable career as an international solo artist & recognized songwriter. What I didn’t know…were all the details in behind the scenes that would take place from there forward…of which I can assure you, I now know there are in fact, many. While over the years I’d end up receiving snapshots of what Erik was up to…singles like “Love Riot” in 2017, “Getaway Car” in the following year, and eventually this album’s title-track towards the end of 2020 – I was so busy in my own world doing what I was doing, that it never crossed my mind just how much a dude like Erik was actually going through just trying to get towards this new record. For real – knowing the full story is truly one of the best possible ways to start this review on Erik’s latest album The Chinese Democracy II Human – so before you even go any further with whatever I’ve got say, learn about this album from Odsell direct in his own words & find out about the many twists & turns he went through on the journey to this album. Check out this official mini-documentary promo-vid he’s got to give you a full glimpse behind the scenes.
You see what I’m saying? What a genuinely great spirit Erik has. He’s got another stellar record on his hands here as well – I’m a big fan of Human and inspired by not only its content, but how much has gone into this new record by Odsell. “When We Were Beautiful” makes for a fantastic first impression on the way into the album as track one…hearing Erik blossom and burst open for the expressive & colorful chorus hooks of this tune should be all the confirmation anyone out there requires to know he’s right on his A-game and sounding spectacular, confident, professional – and quite beautiful himself in fact. There’s a lot of glitter & gloss in this celebratory sound as it transitions from the verse of “When We Were Beautiful” into its sparkling chorus…and every second of it was highly welcome to my ears. I really dig dynamics like you’ll find here…that low-key wisdom & insightful observations of the verses, and how that plays such a significant role in how powerful & all-encompassing the chorus of this song becomes. Structurally, Odsell couldn’t have played this opener any smarter in my opinion – everything you’ll hear has verifiable hooks to start with, but listen to how they’re displayed & presented to us as well – you’ll hear the chorus for the first time…and sure, it’ll make an impact on ya – but just you wait until you hear it again in the future to follow as the song ticks past the 2:30 mark. Because that’s the magic of music right there in action folks, that’s what you’ll hear – this is what it sounds like when you have the ability to innovate & elevate the sound you’re working with. Essentially, when you hear that chorus for the first time, you’re actually getting about 50% of its complete & total power & energy – and when you hear how Erik is able to bring that moment to its maximum potential soon after, it’s brilliant. Although I ended up playing a different cut from this record on the most recent episode of the SBS Podcast, “When We Were Beautiful” was quite likely the track I debated most about switching with the track I did end up playing…it’s an excellent opening song, and an all-around solid, well-written tune.
The artistically-inspired sounds of the record’s title-track, “Human,” show up right afterwards to keep the lineup strong in its earliest moments. As far as lyricism goes, Erik’s done a remarkable job with “Human” and essentially threaded the sentiment of a lot of who he is, what he believes, and what he considers to be important right in the fabric of this track. I very much dig the fact that “Human” isn’t afraid to point out a lot of what’s kinda crappy about being “Human” just as much as it highlights the good stuff too, in addition to the fact that we’re all capable of extraordinary things and a whole level of empathy that we seem to keep hidden for some strange reason. It’s easy to hear “Human” for the beauty it’ll offer your ears and the inspired vibes it’ll pump out of your speakers – but when you’re really listening to the words, you’ll find Odsell has worked in a highly clever amount of contrast in his words to illuminate & illustrate the points he’s making here. We posted up the video for “Human” at our page back in 2020 – and there’s also a full review on our pages for this lead-single/title-track as well, which you can find by clicking here. Suffice it to say, there’s no way this record could have been made without this centerpiece & core concept to have built it all around…Erik Odsell is the consummate professional, and he gives you a spectacular display of really well thought-out songwriting & stunning execution from the idea to the end results in what he’s achieved with “Human” – it’s as important as it is entertaining.
The man sure knows his way around a hook y’all…there’s no denying that, whatsoever. One of Erik’s real gifts as a songwriter is how he’s able to ensure that each part of his songs has verifiable hook & pull to it…and whether he’s in a more chill gear, or singing his heart out in the biggest moments of a song, he’s put in noteworthy efforts to make sure the entertainment factor & our interest never subside. “Better Off” is probably one of my favorite cuts on this record…and even that in itself, is kind of quite the statement really…I mean, Erik’s not necessarily stomping on new ground here, you feel me? At the end of the day, “Better Off” is still a love song of sorts, albeit about the heartbreak-side of that scenario – but the point is, we’ve all heard millions of’em…and the fact that Odsell is able to make an impact at all in that regard, is actually quite impressive. I love hearing this guy switch between his natural sound & his falsetto vibes…Erik’s put in an all-out spectacular performance on “Better Off” that reveals some of his genuine best…and while the subject of the song might be a little more commonly found out there in the music we all listen to, the performance he puts in & the writing easily set him apart from the rest. Essentially what I’m saying is that he’s taken what could have been ordinary, and made it extraordinary – and he should be genuinely proud of that. “Better Off” has a tremendous accessible sound & real style to it from start to finish…from the hand-claps to the thickness of the bounce in the bass-lines, to the high-level demands made of Erik’s vocals & hearing him succeed with confidence & bold tone – this cut really has it all for ya in some way, shape, or form. It might sound & appear to be a happier tune than it ultimately IS at its core…but that’s not gonna hold anyone back from listening to this at maximum volume loud’n’proud once they dig in and discover the depths of emotion under its shiny surface. Erik’s got the kind of cut with “Better Off” that is guaranteed to get ya singing along and get your body movin.’
No doubt, the man’s been off to a strong start…and spoiler alert, you may as well expect the quality to remain every bit as professional through the performances & production right through to the end. You kidding me? Human is more than five years in the making – first of all, we’re lucky that Erik didn’t end up with a thirty-song record made out of pure isolation-induced boredom – secondly, he’s played this next move in his career extremely smart by making Human as tight as tight can be with eight tracks on it. There’s no dead weight here to be found…no songs that don’t belong…nothing less than a flawless set of songs that have Erik sounding at his absolute best, and a range of versatility in sound that’s got him thriving in multiple directions. Tunes like “Full Circle” embody so much of what Erik is about when it comes to the art of making music…but truly, there’s not a song on this record that wouldn’t speak strongly on his behalf when it comes to his dedication to the craft. The work has absolutely been put into every second of Human, and it’s radiantly apparent to our ears when we listen as a result of the effort. I love the imagery he’s put into his words and the way he describes his thoughts & feelings – it’s by far one of Erik’s best attributes as a songwriter…for the glossy sound of the music he makes, he’s still able to generate an impeccable amount of sincerity in his sound…and the reason that is, is because it’s real. I can’t imagine Odsell making a track that isn’t somewhat of a reflection of who he is, what he wants to communicate, and the beautiful things he wishes for each and every one of you out there listening far & wide across the globe. The music he makes comes from a very real and sincere place, and you’ll be able to hear that in every corner of the lineup on Human. “Full Circle” instantly presents a more serious vibe & sound…of all the tracks within the first four, this is the one that cues your ears in to listen right away, displaying an atmosphere that has tangible weight to its melody, and you know you’re about to hear something that’s important to be communicated. Spellbinding pace and stunning vocal highlights from Erik…and words that you can genuinely feel & relate to…I think many of us have had that feeling of coming around “Full Circle” in some way in our own lives…it’s a feeling that’s as oddly comforting as it is kind of crucial to our own personal evolution as well. We need that completeness, we need that ability to revisit the past in the present, confront, and reconcile the two in some kind of harmony…it’s not a situation that comes around every single day, but you know it when you’ve arrived.
When you listen to songs like “Love Riot” now, knowing more of the context of how & when it was written, being the first single originally released back in 2017 following the 2016 election in the USA – I mean…like I told ya from the get-go, knowing the entire story really does make a huge difference in understanding the full motivations of Odsell and the music he’s made on this particular record. Doing his part to add some light & love to this world through the passion he puts into his craft – “Love Riot” was the first piece of the puzzle made available, and now you get it here with the crystal clarity of the rest of the picture supporting it in-full. As I’m sure I must have said way back in the day in reviewing this song originally, it’s tough to resist the spirit & sentiment of Erik when he’s set his mind to generating positive change out there in the world & trying his level-best to start up a “Love Riot” to lead us forward – and I’m not about to start trying now. Definitely a welcome tune to have back on & it fits in the lineup – I wouldn’t argue that; it’s highly cohesive & certainly fits. Having said that…while I’d never say that any song out there really has an actual expiry date – I do think you can always hear the progression of an album if you’re listening closely…and chances are, it’s the material made in the process that occurs right around the middle that usually comes out the strongest. Think of it this way – those first songs carry the excitement of making that next record, and the ones at the end of the session are quite often built of tunes that might not have even been written until that very moment in time – but the middle of the process…that’s the sweet spot…that’s where you’ll find an artist or band right at the heart of the craft. So while it’s fair to say I certainly still dig “Love Riot” and think it’s every bit as much of a quality cut when it comes to the execution – I do think Erik has both shown us, and will show us, stronger tunes in the lineup surrounding this particular song. However…it should be noted that, even if “Love Riot” was to come last in my list of favorites – or yours for that matter – Odsell would still be cracking the bat with a remarkable average – “Love Riot” is still a great tune; all I’m saying is he went on to write greater ones.
Every time that 2018’s single “Getaway Car” pulled up on my playlist here once again, all I could think about was how awesome it’s gotta feel for Erik to finally get these songs out on the record he’s envisioned them to be on all this time. He makes a lot of great tunes, there’s no question about that – again, watch the documentary up top & you’ll see he’s a verifiable force in songwriting that is capable of taking home significant hardware, accolades, and awards for his efforts. That being said, obviously like every artist & band out there in our world, he’s got some cuts that are more memorable than others, and “Getaway Car” is certainly among them. The hooks of this track are seriously bulletproof and entirely unforgettable…I was almost blown away in writing this new review here and realizing that it’s been about three years since I heard this song the first time…this is definitely one of those examples where it feels like it was just last week, it’s still that vivid & fresh in my mind. It’s still that vivid & fresh in my speakers here too for that matter! I love the way Erik sings this song, and he gets miles & miles out of the main hooks & sensational solo that “Getaway Car” has, and I was stoked to see this song made the official lineup of Human at long last – read my original thoughts in review by clicking here.
If you tuned into the SBS Podcast earlier today, you heard a cut called “The Music” by Erik Odsell, in addition to a whole bunch more of my thoughts on Human and the man behind it all. As I’m sure you’ve all gathered from everything I’ve said so far, really, any cut could have been a verifiable candidate to have played on our show when it comes to the lineup of songs on this album – but hey, a song that’s about music sure seems like a good fit for a music-show, wouldn’t you say? Honestly, I picked this cut because I felt like there’s a ton of inspirational value to what Odsell is communicating at its core. If you’re among the creative-types out there…if you’ve ever felt that magnetic pull towards your passions like you’ve got no other choice but to cling to them with everything you’ve got, then chances are, you’ll find “The Music” speaks to you just as strongly as it did to me. I think there are so many times in life where we get bogged down by the daily grind or the interference of whatever obstacles get thrown into our routines as we try to get from point-A to point-B…and Erik takes a moment here to remind us just how important it is to stay true to who you are & what you love doing. There’s a reason that we’re all drawn to our passions…and if you’re really paying attention to those dreams you’re having, they’ll point you directly to your destiny…and if you’re as dedicated as you believe you are, you’ll follow it all to the furthest points it’ll all take you. Erik’s done that. He’s obviously been a responsible dude as well, you can hear that in the details of “The Music” and how he’s detailed getting through his day-to-day, but listen to the way the expressive vibes come alive in the hooks of the chorus – that’s the magic right there. As purposeful as anything could ever be, that inspired spark you hear is the same one he feels – you dig? A sparkling reflection of how “The Music” makes him feel, this track details what it is that brings him back to make more…and in the process, reveals the artist he’s always been meant to be.
So much of Human has explored the connection between us all and encouraged us to keep the lines of communication open from our hearts to our minds – and the final track, “Too Late” exemplifies so much of what this entire experience has been about at its core. The main hooks becomes just as much of a genuine plea as it is an insightful observation, asking if it’s “too late to talk it through” – a line that makes you wonder aloud along with it, and consider the heaviness of that message as it resonates. The hopeful spirit in the sound likely provides the biggest clue into the answer you know Erik has personally reached…he’s the unbreakable type among us…and you know it’s never gonna be “Too Late” for him to try to make a difference if he thinks there’s a possibility to make some positive change in our world. With highly interpretive lyricism that could make “Too Late” just as much about the fragility of love and relationships as it might be about a more macro-concept that looks at the way we communicate on a global scale…Erik’s got a perfect track to end this experience of Human with a thought-provoking & authentically evocative last song. Hearing him hit the most demanding notes of “Too Late” with exceptional confidence and conviction gave this final cut the sense of urgency & emotion behind the words that was required to make it real…and Erik gives us just enough hope to keep us out of despair. All-around, I felt like Human represented his best material to-date without question…every tune you’ll find on this record is built of single-worthy sound and genuine sincerity that speaks volumes on behalf of Odsell’s admirable character as a person, and his truly spectacular capabilities as a singer & songwriter.
Human is officially out & available on every major music platform online now – find out more about the new album, and everything else you need to know about Erik Odsell by visiting his official site at: https://erikodsell.com
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