Articles: St. Thomas: I'm Coming Home (dotmusic - January 16th 2002)

Released on: Mon 21 Jan 2002

ST. THOMAS - 'I'M COMING HOME' (CITY SLANG)

Norwegians doing alt country Americana. On the surface a rather unsettling proposition. Not so for 25 year-old former postman Thomas Hansen, the mastermind of this debut. The bleak expansive landscapes and the inescapable darkness of his home country have clearly infected his homespun, melancholic sound in the same way the American wilderness has affected the muse of Lambchop and Grandaddy.

Hansen's peculiar falsetto is a perfect Nordic take on Neil Young's youthful voice while the acoustic guitars, harmonica and banjos employed religiously throughout are reminiscent of Young's 1972 'Harvest' album without the overblown orchestration.

Lyrically St. Thomas deals with (yes you guessed it) a sense of isolation and alienation. Occasionally this approach ends leads to self-parody, particularly on the ridiculously titled 'A Nice Bottle Of Wine' which turns out to be more of a nursery rhyme than a song. That said, there are many genuinely heartfelt moments. 'Cornerman' is an uplifting three minute pop gem. 'Bookstore', meanwhile, is a bizarre psychedelic folk ditty with additional chanting about trying to find answers in books. Similarly harmonica-driven opener 'The Cool Song' is a fine piece of pop containing Hansen's ironic opening gambit 'I've never seen a cowboy before'.

'I'm Coming Home' is neither a daringly ambitious nor highly innovative record. It is however a convincing exercise in songwriting and beauty-tinged downbeat melancholia. An impressive debut, that certainly beats delivering the mail on a freezing cold morning in Oslo.

CHRIS NYE-BROWNE.



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