Welcome to the latest chapter in the Extraordinary Life of Christy O’Donnell, prodigious musical talent and all-round star-in-waiting, who releases his new single ‘In Denial’ via Decca Records today, stream here.
An ear-wormy pop singalong, complete with rousing blasts of soulful trumpet that feels arena-ready, ‘In Denial’ sits in a powerful sweet spot between Paolo Nutini and Alabama Shakes.
Let’s get a flavour of Christy’s story so far: expelled from school when his teachers didn’t believe this dyslexic youngster had written a piece of music so proficient it could be his own work (the school eventually apologised, he left anyway); at 16 he’d earn hundreds of pounds a day busking in Glasgow, with his party trick of playing note-perfect requests from a few bars off a mobile phone; being cast as the lead in a movie after a random meeting with an acting agent; meeting Rufus Wainwright after a gig in Perth and being invited to tour Europe with him; an online relationship with a famous actress; TikTok viral fame for trying on a wedding dress; and now, signing a deal with legendary label Decca and forging a path as one of the sound of 2023.
Inspiration aplenty for an incredible collection of songs, ‘In Denial’ draws on the aforementioned long-distance affair.
“I’m a little bit in love with her, and she’s a little bit in love with me,” he admits. Conducted over social media and phone, the two-year interaction was as long and intense as it was unconsummated and distant – they still haven’t met. The lyrics, accordingly, are dreamily romantic, but realistically rigorous and pithily punchy, too: “I’ve been home just getting high-o, while you’ve been working in Ohio…” For all the glory of its chorus, he acknowledges the song “is ultimately pretty brutal”.
‘In Denial’ also showcases Christy’s astonishing vocal range, from bluesy rasp to choirboy-adjacent falsetto. “I do falsetto because, when I was cutting my teeth busking, I realised that you had to capture attention, and quickly,” he explains. “There’s a lot of noise on the streets, especially in the middle of Glasgow. And to stand out, I noticed that if I sang in falsetto, people stopped and looked and listened.”
By taking a chance, having a punt and betting on his own talent with an open mind to the possibilities, Christy is the definition of making your own luck. Or, as he puts it: “I’ve always felt that if you believe something is going to happen, it’ll happen.”