Album: St Thomas

I'm Coming Home, City Slang
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The Independent Culture

One of the more baffling oddities of early-Seventies music was the popularity of country-rock in Holland, where the Flying Burrito Brothers and their ilk would sell out venues that more high-profile artists would struggle to fill. The early-Noughties equivalent is surely the burgeoning popularity of pseudo-American psychedelic folk-rock in Scandinavia, with this striking solo debut from the Norse singer-songwriter St Thomas (Thomas Hansen) joining his fellow countrymen Motorpsycho's Phanerothyme and the Swede Nicolai Dunger's Soul Rush as creditable examples of Euro-Americana. Hansen realises the absurdity of his situation, admitting: "I've never seen a cowboy", but his grip on the genre is so resolute, he transcends such obvious models as Neil Young and Will Oldham (the latter's influence flits through Gothic-country tracks such as "Strangers out of Blue", and several songs follow the template of Young's "Heart of Gold"). Elsewhere, behind the banjo and galumphing drums of "Nice Bottle of Wine" lurks the melody of "I Pity the Poor Immigrant", while the title track evokes the hymn-like atmosphere associated with the Mormon trio Low. Set to a rustic blend of methodically strummed guitars, organ drones, banjo and lachrymose fiddle, Hansen's songs deal adeptly with such staple country matters as loneliness and unrequited love, conditions made all the more poignant by his acute sense of being a soul adrift in an alien culture. Recommended.

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