Julie Odell’s charm is contagious in London

The New Orleans singer-songwriter won over a tired midweek crowd at The Lexington

Where did Julie Odell spring from? From her perspective it was hardly sudden, having spent years refining her soaring style of Americana in New Orleans venues from Banks Street Bar to Gasa Gasa. But, at least this side of the Atlantic, the 32-year-old appears to have arrived with one of the best albums of 2022 without much trace. Released back in September, Autumn Eve is an unbelievable assured, coherent and dynamic debut that has pushed the singer-songwriter right to the front of the queue in the busy sphere of contemporary folk-rock.

But though she may be used to a bustling and rowdy New Orleans live scene, her performance at North London’s The Lexington on a drab and drizzly Wednesday evening presented a challenge before she even steps on stage. “You can move a little forward,” adds Swedish support band Junodef, whose moody and cinematic shoegaze is received well, however incongruous with the main act.

But with an entrance so modest some hadn’t realised the show had begun, a warmth seems to radiate as Odell strums the opening of ‘People Cheering’. As on the record, one of the biggest delights live is the felt reaction from the play between hushed fingerpicking and hard-hitting, full band moments. Drummer Jonathan Arceneaux, who Odell introduces as one of the finest Cajun chefs in Louisiana, hits the snare and rolls the toms with an impressive charge, while bassist Kenny Murphy and guitarist Ajai seem to play gentler as they smile proudly at Odell.

Julie Odell - Cardinal Feather (Official Video)

This sonic backing seems to push the singer to the apex of her range, and it is here where she excels, taking the patchwork beauty of ‘Cardinal Feather’ or invigorating ‘Envelope’ to a mighty blast. This vocal meandering is intoxicating, weathered with a slight husk but sweeping from delicate creeks to towering swells – a journey itself contained within the album’s namesake and evening’s ending.

You can read our interview with Julie Odell here and our review of Autumn Eve here.