Norway - Full Moon 80 - 04/16/03
Hmmm... Strange, but I got this feeling there's a slight artistic and psychological
familiarity, between St. Thomas and another of the artists presented under this moonth's menu:
Daniel Johnston. Could St. Thomas be sort of a Norwegian similar to Daniel J.? Not at full scale,
and not sounding just like D.J. Nevertheless, St. Thomas Hansen is a man of swinging moods and
a yo-yo-ing temper, and - as Mr. Johnston - his vocals are, uh, easy to recognise. And he spits
out songs of a naive simplicity, not quite of Johnston's caliber, and of a more laid-back nature.
Like Neil Young's 'loony' little brother. Neil Jung?
Right now a lot goes Thomas' way, and he might be about to break (if not big-time, bigger)
outside Norway. Last year saw him tour quite extensivly, bringing him to festivals in continental
Europe, to London's world-famous Royal Albert Hall, to the USA, as opening act for Nashville
BIG-band Lambchop. This friendship brought him to Tennessee for the recording of this, his third
album, with Lambchop's Mark Nevers behind the wheel of the production desk. And it really sounds
like the trip across the Atlantic for recording was a smart move, as it sounds like St. Thomas
on Hey Harmony is in total harmony with himself and his surroundings. As always his English
has got this 'clumsy' feel, but this simply adds the perfect charm to his, uh, unpretensious and
good-hearted little melodies. Most of them sounds like it took only twice the time to
write'em, some songs sound a bit the same, and some I find too simple and lull. But the
best songs for sure raise the temperature. Like "Like A Big Time", "Strengthen Your Bow", "Falling
Down", the very good "Cowboy, Cowgirl - Moviestar, Moviestar", and: (the album's finest moment)
"People In The Forest". A lot of tasty guitars (and keys), and a crisp production suits St. Thomas'
(introvert) expressive music very well. Guess he must be grateful to the musicians helping out -
quite prominent people I'd say: Giant Sand-man Howe Gelb, Neutral Milk Hotel-drummer Jeremy Barnes,
Lambchoppers Matt Swanson and Tony Crow to name a few.
All in all I'd like to sum up Hey Harmony with one word - a word I usually try to avoid,
because it usually fits "sweet'n'sticky pink candy-floss in your face". Now I find it to be a
perfect compliment: Cosy. Yes, indeed. Sounds like St. Thomas is having a good good time.
Copyright © 2003 Håvard Oppøyen