Julie Odell Signs With Frenchkiss, Shares Single “Caterpillar”

New Orleans-based singer-songwriter Julie Odell has announced her signing to the venerable Frenchkiss Records, and shared her first single for the label. “Caterpillar” serves as a great example of her unique attention to detail and the way her songs beautifully morph, with varying tempos, vocal deliveries, noise levels, keyboard flourishes, and guitar strums that twinkle so artfully and subtly that they feel like brushstrokes.

On the single, Odell says “Caterpillar is about the transformative courage it takes to step into the unknown. It’s about life’s inevitable change and the change that we choose. It’s all a free fall of hoping and trusting that there will be something to grab onto before you land on your face. Navigating the emotional path of worry, doubt, fear, excitement, discovery, joy, peace and all the adrenaline in between.”

Of the new signing, Syd Butler of the label explains – “Julie is a rare find in the music world. Her unique voice, inspirational approach to writing and creative vision transport you to an intimate world ripe with what is possible.”

Her music is folky, dreamy, and soulful, marked by her powerful, peculiar vocals, detailed textures, and an instinct for immediate songcraft. Her songs are complex and multifaceted, in part because they don’t follow expected trajectories or settle into long stretches of even-keeled languor. “Internally I always feel either really chaotic or really calm,” Odell says. “So, it’s a lot of really loud, fast-paced stuff, and then it’ll shrink down to really quiet delicate things. I’m obsessed with dynamics.” Odell wanted to be a meteorologist when she was a kid, chasing tornadoes in a van with all her friends. Although she chose a life as an artist instead, she reckons she’s chasing musical tornadoes, since her songs are wispy, unpredictable beasts.

Odell’s mother is a painter, and her father is a potter, and she spent much of her childhood in the back of a van, trekking to art festivals and craft fairs for months at a time with her parents, which was how they made a living. She was surrounded by artists and their art for her whole life, so it was only a matter of time before she started making her own art. After she began writing songs on the family upright piano and performing at open mic nights, she played “dainty piano waltzes” as an opening act for hardcore shows in South Louisiana. Then she formed a psychedelic folk-rock band called Giant Cloud, who toured frequently and released an album on Park The Van, before writing and performing music under her own name.

Listening to her music feels like you’re sitting in Odell’s family van, absorbing delightful new landscapes through the window every few minutes, and you’ll never want the gorgeous fever dream to end.

Photo Courtesy: Olivia Perillo