Odette Michell is an award-winning British folk singer-songwriter, guitarist and bouzouki player with a stunning new take on the acoustic tradition and a voice capable of demonstrating the finer points of both folk and traditional song with genuine craftsmanship.
Things have been moving at something of a pace for Odette ever since she released her debut EP 'By Way of Night' in 2018. The EP showcased a bold and emerging talent within the British folk and acoustic music scene and garnered high praise, earning Odette her first national and international radio plays on both BBC and Folk Radio stations.
In April 2019, Odette released her debut album ‘The Wildest Rose’. The album gained widespread positive acclaim followed by a string of live interviews, and featured notable musical contributions from Phil Beer (one-half of multi-award-winning acoustic folk band Show of Hands), and Toby Shaer (Cara Dillon, Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys).
The result is a compelling, highly impressive debut that both soars and impresses. fRoots Magazine named it "one of the stand-out debuts of 2019", and by the end of that year, 'The Wildest Rose' had been chosen as one of the '10 Best Albums of 2019' by Johnny Coppin on BBC Radio Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Bristol & BBC Sounds, and became one of the 'Recommended Albums Of 2019' and 'Magnificent Seven Of 2019' on Blues & Roots Radio, and in January 2020 RNR Magazine touted Odette as one of their 'Top Tips For 2020'.
In January 2020 Odette won Female Artist Of The Year at the 2019 FATEA Awards, following in the footsteps of previous winners Kitty Macfarlane and Cara Dillon, respectively; and in May 2020 Odette was nominated for a Rising Star Award at the 2020 Folking Awards. In January 2021 Odette was invited to perform at Celtic Connections as part of the legendary Danny Kyle Open Stage.
A dynamic and prolific live performer, Odette has performed alongside the likes of Show of Hands and Seth Lakeman, and has opened for Martin Carthy, Phil Beer, Boo Hewerdine, Nancy Kerr, Reg Meuross and BBC R2 Folk Award winner Sam Carter amongst many others.
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RNR Magazine (Album Review) ★★★★
"With producer Stu Hanna on board comes this dulcet and very vintage debut. Phil Beer from Show of Hands adds his presence, notably on the title track's joyous crest of mandolin and fiddle. With its gallant chorus, you can mark this song to be covered by all-comers."
"'True Lovers Farewell' offers a showcase for Michell's heartrending voice and its inklings of Sandy Denny or Annie Briggs, with whom she shares a yen for folk narratives. Best of all is closing cut 'The Eastern Seas', an enticing and fanciful fable, laden with Norse solemnity."
Maverick Magazine ★★★★
"Warm and rustic... The Wildest Rose incorporates hints of Irish roots with bittersweet narration as each track becomes a new chapter of Michell's story to tell"
"Odette makes an easily loveable impression in her latest record. Graceful and mysterious, Michell encapsulates listeners with her nostalgic imagery and sweet melodies - a very enjoyable listen."
Northern Sky ★★★★
"There is much to get lost in within Michell's quiet understatement and nuanced singing on songs like 'Dance Me Through The Night'... 'Great Old Northern Line' with a great guitar part mimicking the sound of a train, is another emotionally charged performance and song. 'True Lovers Farewell', like a guitar and voice lift from a 60's Joan Baez album is an absolute masterclass in how to deliver traditional songs, and is one of the strongest tracks on this fine album."
"This is an assured album with lots of highs and no lows. Whether soaring or soothing, Odette Michell is one to watch."
Folk Radio UK (Mike Davies, May 2019)
"Breathing fresh life into the acoustic tradition while staying true to its heritage, Michell is one of the brightest new names to have emerged full-grown on the country’s folk scene in recent years."
fRoots Magazine (Darren Johnson, June 2019)
"While there is never any shortage of debut albums from folk singer songwriters being brought to the attention of fRoots reviewers, for endearing melodies and evocative song-writing in the English folk tradition Odette Michell presents us with a really rather impressive debut here. It helps, of course, that she has one of those beautiful voices that’s just perfect for English folk but with so many releases from emerging artists, being in possession of a beautiful voice, alone, is not necessarily a stand-out quality on the contemporary folk scene these days. Michell is clearly a talented musician and gives us some lovely guitar and bouzouki playing on this album, too. What really sets The Wildest Rose apart from many of the other debut albums that will undoubtedly be released over the course of the year, however, is Michell’s knack for writing songs that could easily have been collected over a hundred years ago. She does seem to have a gift for this and gives us nine original songs plus one interpretation of a traditional number without ever falling into the cliche of twee pastiche.
Lyrically, Michell’s songs cover a range of historical, romantic and pastoral themes from ‘folk fairytale’ The Banks of Analee to Light Up London Town exploring the Gunpowder Plot. Besides Michell herself, the album features Stu Hanna on mandolin, violin, bass and percussion who also does a suitably empathetic job on on production duties. In addition, none other than Show of Hands’ Phil Beer contributes to a handful of tracks as does Toby Shaer who has played with Cara Dillon and Sam Kelly & The Lost Boys.
Beautifully written, beautifully sung, beautifully played and beautifully produced, The Wildest Rose deserves acclaim as one of the stand-out debuts of 2019"
FATEA Magazine (Neil King, June 2019)
"The Wildest Rose' is an album that sits firmly within "the tradition"... with one thing, well two, in common. One is the attention to detail that all the songs get, the second they way she makes them her own. Regardless of which album song you drop into, you know it's Odette Michell's and more important that she's singing it for you".
"There is something personal and personable about 'The Wildest Rose', it resonates and climbs into your heart. It's an album that speaks to you and gains your attention because you want to listen, not because it demands. It can take on darker and deeper themes, not because they feel threatening and brooding, but because putting them into the light, helps give them context".
"Odette Michell has the potential to be one of this generation's comparison points, future artists may both bless and curse the name, but rest assured they will all hold it in high regard and declare "The Wildest Rose" an inspiration".
Living Tradition (David Kidman, April 2019)
"...Odette’s work is characterised by a freshness of delivery, and an enviably light and airy touch to her singing, playing and writing that escapes any potentially easy charge of insubstantiality... It’s clearly accessible, amenable and likeable, often with a strong feel of tradition, especially in Odette’s gift for melodic invention..."
"...I was sometimes reminded of Kate Rusby or Karine Polwart ... Odette’s songs tend to leave behind haunting resonances, for the overall character of her music is soothing rather than outwardly eventful or exciting, and its (perhaps unexpectedly invigorating) gentleness may thus prove deceptive..."
"...A disc that’s evidently destined to please".
Stirrings Magazine (Kath Reade, July 2019)
"Hertfordshire based folk singer-songwriter Odette Michell has come up with a tour de force of self-penned songs with
very attractive lyrics and traditionally styled tunes which sound for all the world like traditional classics. This is a
wonderfully lyrical collection, featuring additional vocals and lovely fiddling from the Show of Hands talent that is
Odette has attracted some great people around her for this debut project, which has already garnered considerable
praise. Stu Hanna (half of Megson) has produced, while the acclaimed fiddle/whistle player Toby Shaer weaves his musical magic on three tracks. Her voice is dulce-easy on the ear, but also has depth and maturity.
This is an impressive debut, from a talented woman who has a freshness and an admirable drive to be heard. With a music video shot on the Chalk Horse in Oxfordshire, radio plays and a tour, Odette is going places, and success will be well deserved..."
Liverpool Sound & Vision (Album Review) ★★★★
"The Wildest Rose is not only an enthralling debut, it is one which returns the genre to its roots, an air of calm driven by insightful prose and musical score..."
Folk London (Joe Whittaker, August 2019)
"From the first bars of the strong opening title track, which could be from an early Fairport set, it is clear that Odette Michell has a song writing and performance skill well above average."
"If you then add the talents of two of the scene’s multi instrumentalists to the musical recipe in the form of Phil Beer and the 25 year old wonder Toby Shaer you are maximising the musical ingredients to produce an album that is worthy of your talent. Self penned songs, clearly rooted in the English folk tradition that could easily be mistaken for Anon. or Trad. Include The Banks of Annalee and the third track Rolling Shores of England - which I can hear being played and sung in folk venues for many years to come.
Phil Beer adds subtle backing vocals on that track, contributes fiddle to both opening and closing tracks on the album and Phil has showcased Odette on a number of his solo gigs in recent months. Fiddle and whistle player, Toby Shaer [the best thing to come out of Leigh-on-Sea in many a year] adds his contributions on both instruments on three of the 10 tracks including a hauntingly beautiful I Once loved a Shepherd.
The sole track not penned by Odette is the traditional 18th century True Lovers Farewell/10,000 miles which in mid album is seamless with its adjacent tracks such is the quality of Odette’s singing and song interpretation..."
Unicorn Magazine (Sandra Laws, Oct 2019)
"...Although a relative newcomer to the folk scene, Odette is making a huge impact, and having listened to this CD and seen her perform at Costa Del Folk and the Kimpton Folk Festival, I am sure she is destined for great things.
All 10 tracks have a harmonious, traditional feel and I was initially surprised to learn that nine of them are self-penned!
But Odette has been playing guitar since she was 15 and began writing just a year later drawing on her rich cultural heritage and life experience. She competently accompanies her beautiful melodic lead vocals on guitar and bouzouki – her voice having echoes of a young Maddy Prior at times as well as similarities to Sandy Denny and Joni Mitchell. It is testament to Odette’s skill as a songwriter and musician that she persuaded Stu Hanna to perform on and produce this CD - her first full length studio album – and got Phil Beer (Show of Hands) and Toby Shaer (Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys) to work their magic on some of the tracks. I enjoyed every minute of this CD and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with a love of traditional style folk music. Odette’s live performances are also highly professional and the audience rapport she creates with her warm stage presence shows a maturity beyond her years."
"Folk music is in good hands with artists of this calibre".
Folking.com (David Harley April 2019)
"A fine collection of excellent melodies, beautifully sung and played, most of which give a nod lyrically and or melodically to UK traditional forms without straying too far into pastiche, and are notable for their irresistible choruses".
Shire Folk (Album Review)
“This is the debut album by Hertfordshire-based singer-songwriter, guitar and bouzouki player Odette Michell. Stu Hanna produces the album with his usual skill and also adds vocals, piano, bass and percussion. Phil Beer (from Show of Hands) plays fiddle on three tracks and Toby Shaer (Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys and Cara Dillon’s band) adds fiddle and whistle to two. It was rather surprising to find only one track of the ten is traditional, as I felt as though I had heard some of the tracks before. This is a credit to Odette’s writing and arrangements. ‘Light Up London Town’ is a song about the political climate behind the gunpowder plots of 1605 and really shows off her excellent folky voice. Odette has already supported some of the major acts on the folk circuit and is now getting solo gigs at many folk clubs etc. On the evidence of this album, she has a bright future ahead of her.”
Irish Music Magazine (Nicky Rossiter, Sept 2019)
"Ten tracks from a new name to this reviewer and all but one from her own pen. It is great to be able to report that Odette does not dissapoint as she offers the listener a wonderful mix of music and well thought out lyrics... Her self penned The Banks of Annalee is a sort of female and English version of the Old Dungarvan Oak and it sounds wonderful painting a picture of a lovely sunny stroll. Similarly The Rolling Shores of England draws the listener into a tale that shows a singer committed to her "native sod" and ready to extol it in song. In fact the majority of the tracks on offer here sound very much like hymns to people and places with a lovely understanding of how people and places are connected and need each other. Nowehere is this more evident than on the beautiful Bless The Ground You Grow On which is my "stand out" song on offer here.
Light Up London Town shows us that it is not just the pastoral that can inspire lyrical tunes. This is a wonderful story song that is powerful in message and performance. She leaves dry land for The Eastern Seas and shows a love of that element as well. The only track on here not from her pen True Lovers Farewell and Odette shows and ability to take a traditional tune and song and to make it truly her own.
Odette Michell has taken that leap and offered an album of songs that are not familiar. Many people shy away from such CD's but I urge you to give this one a listen and I am sure you will be pleased with the outcome."
Johnny Coppin, BBC Radio Gloucestershire
"A very fine album indeed"
Joe Barry, La'Antenato (Album Review)
"Michell's voice sounds so classic and timeless that you can't help but be fascinated. 'The Wildest Rose' is an excellent compromise between more traditional folk...and a more modern sound thanks to the excellent production. With this debut Odette Michell can carve out her space in the panorama of British folk and ensures we can all continue to listen to excellent folk music..."
FATEA Magazine (Pete Bradley, Album Launch Live Review)
"An absolutely brilliant evening. "The Wildest Rose" is a stunning album, and I enjoyed every minute of its release."
FolkWords (Charlie Elkland, EP Review)
"As female folk voices go this one will stay with you. There’s a warm sincerity to the interpretation of the songs, a heartfelt involvement that beckons the listener."
‘By Way Of Night’ is a short ‘taster’ that demonstrates freshness and vitality enduring in English folk, it also presents a talent that English folk should not ignore."
FATEA Magazine (Pete Bradley, EP Review)
“... As a debut release, this EP is stunning.”
"There's a slightly Caribbean feel to "Silver Moon" due to more gorgeous slide guitar from Harry Phillips. Listening to it, I can really imagine that it is me laying on a beach by a camp fire, listening to a troubadour playing and watching the night sky. Not something I've ever done, but this haunting song almost creates memories of having done it."
Jon Bickley, The Invisible Folk Club
"Odette Michell is an English Folk Singer/Songwriter with a fine voice that hints at Sandy or Joni, which is no bad thing - her finely tuned songwriting is sometimes so convincing that you'll believe it's a traditional song..."
Folking.com (Single Review)
“‘Bless The Ground You Grow On’ is the first single from Odette Michell’s forthcoming debut album. It was produced by Stu Hanna and has the pastoral autumnal feel of Robin Williamson’s ‘October Song’... Odette has a strong voice and songwriting talent that we should be hearing a lot more of in the future”.
Justin Coleman, Explorer Magazine (Live Review)
"Odette Michell possesses one of the most remarkable voices you'll hear anywhere, and it's matched by a rare songwriting talent.
"...Odette's voice can conjure up a summer feeling even in the depths of winter, and her distinctive brand of modern folk music will leave catchy tunes in your brain for days. Her fresh take on this genre can be compared to the Indigo Girls and Sandy Denny."
Mike Davies, FATEA Magazine (Single Review)
“A prelude to her forthcoming debut album, Herefordshire singer-songwriter self-releases an uplifting folksy swayalong about endurance and leaving behind a legacy inspired by a trip to Uffington's famous Chalk Horse and featuring producer Stu Hanna on fiddle and mandolin. It's paired with 'The Eastern Seas', a more melancholic and airy piece which, backed by shruti drone and featuring a bouzouki solo, draws on her family background and ancestors that left Ireland during the famine of the 1800’s to seek a new life in the North of England and, when conditions proved too harsh, in Canada”.
WATCH THE DEBUT ALBUM EPK:
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Below are the official music videos for 'Bless The Ground You Grow On' (Released: Nov 2018), 'Great Old Northern Line' (Released: July 2019), and 'Light Up London Town' (Released: Dec 2019):