Today’s Song: Tom Odell’s “Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About” Captures the Eerie Feeling of Silence in a Relationship

Tom Odell © Rory Langdon-Down
Tom Odell © Rory Langdon-Down
Singer/songwriter Tom Odell encapsulates the slow end of a relationship through his heartfelt song, “Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About.” 
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“Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About” – Tom Odell

When relationships start to go awry, it is human nature to start to think about the ways to preserve them. Instead of addressing issues head-on and having those hard conversations, we tend to gloss over them for a while and try to find alternative solutions. But sometimes, this leads to utter silence and no resolution. Tom Odell’s “Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About” tackles this idea through a melancholic and wistful melody. Odell’s calming and heartfelt vocals, accompanied by a piano, are the only two things he uses to compose this song as well as the rest of his album.

Best Day of My Life - Tom Odell
Best Day of My Life – Tom Odell

Released October 28, 2022 via UROK / mtheory, “Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About” is the fourth track off the English singer/songwriter’s new and fifth album Best Day of My Life. His album comes with a mini documentary series on YouTube highlighting the creation of some of the songs. In episode three, he discusses the process of “Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About.”

“I guess from my experience so far or from where I’m standing, the thing that really kind of destroys relationships are the things that you’re unable to speak about,” Odell says. “The more you don’t speak about it the more the problem grows. I think the thing that I’ve observed, at least, is that you can get through anything if you speak about it and you’re able to talk about it. But if you’re not, it really can become destructive.”

Tom Odell © Rory Langdon-Down
Tom Odell © Rory Langdon-Down

The song takes place over one night but grapples with the loss of communication over time. The song starts on a rainy day at the train station as a character returns home. But quickly dives into the possibility of a dying relationship.

How you been?
I can’t complain
It’s been a while
I’m glad you came

Within these few lines there is a sense of distance as it seems like the two characters have not had a conversation in a while. The question, “How you been?” is actually the only one answered out of four asked throughout the rest of the song.

Coffee in a flask
Driving much too fast
Have you had a drink?
Wouldn’t want to ask
Don’t wanna think
About the past

As the piano continues to softly play, we receive the first question that is unasked as well as the first refusal to speak. Here, the character is afraid to ask the question, “Have you had a drink?” due to the turmoil it could bring up. So instead, they resort to silence.

As the song progresses into its chorus, the repetitive words, “This could be the time we work things out/ Say some things that we should say out loud,” becomes a cry and plea for the longing of that hard conversation. Emphasizing this concept further, he stretches out the syllables in this line as it is repeated throughout the song. He touches upon that desperateness someone can feel as the end is nearing, where the voices in your head scream louder than the ones coming out of your mouth.

Shall we have a beer?
Should I tell a joke?
And keep this sinking ship afloat

As the song reaches the other two questions, again, they are not stated out loud. But it shows how much someone is yearning for even small talk, and how the relationship has resorted to unfulfilling conversations. But these questions also imply how they will do anything to avoid the questions that need to be asked.

It’s not what you did
It’s not what you said
It’s the silence we choose instead

Although Odell’s voice stays in the same, consistent, calming tone, intensity starts to build. As he sings the word “instead,” he draws it out, mimicking the relationship. There is even a shift from “you” to “we,” showing that they are both at fault for the silence surrounding it. These last couple of lines also give the final chorus some urgency. The feelings that have been bottled up lead to the explosion of the final verse. The lyrics pleaing one last time, “This could be the time we worked things out/ We could say some things that we should say out loud.” However, it ends with the lyric, “It’ll be just another thing that we don’t talk about,” implying that the issue never seemed to be resolved. And like Odell said in his documentary, “It really can become destructive.”

Tom Odell © Rory Langdon-Down
Tom Odell © Rory Langdon-Down

Odell, with the help of visual artist Manshen Lo, created short animations for the music videos of four songs off the album, “Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About” being one. They use the same character in all four films. In an Instagram post, Odell explained the importance of the films and character by saying, “It was important to us that An [the character] has no specific Gender, or Nationality or Age. This was important because the things that most inspired this album are the things that affect us all, wherever you are in the world, whenever you were born, whatever clothes you wear, whoever you choose to love, choose to identify as, choose to be. Beneath these many identities that distinguish us from one another, there is a shared experience of being a human. And the more I live the more I realise it’s more beautiful and more complex and more fragile and more shared than I could have ever imagined.”

Odell touches upon a variety of relatable situations and emotions in his new album. While “Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About,” focuses on the end of a relationship, other songs focus on other real and raw human experiences. He mentioned in episode two of his documentary series, “Smiling All The Way Back Home” highlights, “That feeling you get when you know you’ve met someone that’s gonna change your life and it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s uncontrollable joy.” And how “Best Day Of My Life,” is about trying to be more aware of the present. Each song brings its own unique take on reality.

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“Just Another Thing We Don’t Talk About” – Tom Odell

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Best Day of My Life - Tom Odell

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