Articles: Review ( - May 2002)

St. Thomas
I'm Coming Home

The secret is out: Neil Young is really fucking good. The past few years have seen the emergence of countless artists clearly influenced by Canada's most respected musical export, and it's about time. You've got people like Will Oldham and TW Walsh - not to mention every band in the alt-country scene - making music that's almost comical in it's similarity to Young's, and really, you can't even blame them. It's like that whole Elephant 6 disaster from a few years back, where, despite making the absolute least original music you could possibly imagine, bands like Olivia Tremor Control and Apples In Stereo gained widespread acclaim, because, well, they sounded exactly like the Beatles and the Beach Boys, and who in their right mind is going to say that's a bad thing? In St. Thomas' case, though, we're not faced with that dilemma. We're faced with an artist, Thomas Hansen, who wears his influences proudly on his sleeve - namely Neil Young - without being so hopelessly obsessed that he seems to be fronting a tribute band. Having already achieved mainstream success in their home country of Norway, St. Thomas has climbed aboard the Misra Records ship for their first US release, I'm Coming Home. You won't have to hear much more than the record's first few notes to realize that its title carries with it not even a shred of irony. Thomas Hansen and company have combined their apparent adoration of traditional American folk music with large helpings of creepy melodies and spacey instrumentation to create a sound that's not always easy to swallow, but one that is consistently engaging. I'm Coming Home isn't all acoustic guitar, lap steel and lyrics about the plight of the working man; it was, however, made by a group of musicians who appreciate the past, but seem to see no point in simply rehashing it, and that's the approach that has made the evolution of American music so impressive.


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