Articles: ST. THOMAS "I'm Coming Home" (Other Music - May 2002)

At first listen, you'd never guess that Norway's newest pop star, the twenty-five year old Thomas Hanson, is even a native son. In fact, his album "I'm Coming Home" (released in Europe on City Slang) resonates with "Harvest"-era Neil Young-isms and the ghost of some old mountain man still wandering the Appalachian trails. Forget that St. Thomas is thousands of miles from the source. Opening the record with nothing more than the lonely strum of a guitar and a warbly falsetto, "The Cool Song" grabs you instantly, long before the first harmonica sustain even comes in. Yes, a classic combination (ala Mr. Young), but more striking is Hanson's ability to channel the spirit of a weathered frontier man through song without even trying. I imagine if there is such a thing as a past life, one or two of his spent many nights in the prairie sipping whiskey while staring at a star filled sky. Like Will Oldham and David Pajo's Papa M, the Oslo born singer's rustic approach lends each song a timeless sensibility left so far behind in this modern music era. The quiet restraints of "Oh I Have Left the Ground" and "Failure #1" float across the Mojave Desert, while the southwestern styling from a reverb drenched guitar in "Goodbye Emily Lang" twists around Hanson's melodic yearnings. Songs like "Take a Dance With Me" or "Cornerman," a top ten hit in Norway, are wonderful modern-folk music narratives edged along by the pluck of a banjo. Sometimes, songs move at a slow drunken pace. Propelled by barely-present percussion accents, these give the sense of an old fashioned sing-a-long, something passed to your grandfather by way of his grandfather. It's obvious that Hanson has more than affection for an American music legend or two, but writing with such natural grace, St. Thomas simply ascends into a place of his own.

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