Thomas Hansen has come a long way since his postman/struggling artist days. Three acclaimed albums, domestic and international tours, rave reviews abroad and solid sales. His latest album the aptly titled “Hey Harmony” (Racing Junior/City Slang) is his most applauded release to date. The album, which saw its domestic release in February, was awarded several six-out-of-six reviews in the national press. Now international media is following suit, leaving St. Thomas with a solid cadre of enthusiastic reviewers at home and abroad.
His third album did not come to easily though. Hectic touring coupled with extensive alcohol consumption led to severe depressions and temper tantrums on-stage. Things climaxed during the Royal Albert Hall final show of last year’s tour with Lambchop. From the stage, St. Thomas lashed out against the audience on his frustration with the promoters. Luckily, the artist realised it was time for a change. After having lived in Berlin for some time, Hansen relocated to Oslo, quit drinking, took up football and even got a new girlfriend. The shift of lifestyle revitalised the once so promising footballer. Creative flow resumed and soon “Hey Harmony” was born.
“Hey Harmony” was recorded in Nashville last year and features an impressive line-up of collaborators: Tony Crow (Lambchop), Matt Swanson (Lambchop), Jeremy Barnes (Neutral Milk Hotel and Bablicon) and Howe Gelb (Giant Sand, OP8). Norwegian contributors include Espen Mellingen (Ai Phoenix and Poor Rich Ones) and Bosse Litzheim (Ai Phoenix). The album was produced by Mark Nevers - recognised for his Lambchop, Will Oldham, Hank Williams and Lisa Germano productions.
It seems that St. Thomas has struck a chord with UK publications such as Bang, Q, Mojo and Uncut. While his two preceding albums Mysterious Walks (2000) and I’m coming home (2001) garnered positive reviews, they did not come close to the acclaim given to “Hey Harmony”. To quote Bang: "Hey Harmony confirms Hansen as one of the finest singer-songwriters in the world today".
Below are some excerpts of “Hey Harmony” reviews:
Uncut - 4/5 (July 03)
"Following the attention heaped upon 2002's lovely "I'm coming home", Norway's most famous ex-postman Thomas Hansen began to wilt, preferring to "hide behind the beer". Sort of Neil Young and Donovan tripping at the Wicker man's solstice fest. "45 seconds" could be Robert Wyatt playing with greasy guitars; "New Apartment" is a new take on flying the nest,..... and closer "institution" is the most moving thing I've heard all year."
Q - 4/5 (July 03)
"He's Norway's answer to Ryan Adams. Indeed, the former postman has delivered an alt-country record every bit as vital as anything raised on the range. With roots drawn not from wagon-train melodramas but eerie folk tales concocted during sunless arctic winters, his songs are full of dark folklore. "Falling Down" boasts the bittersweetness of Neil Young in his prime, while "People in the forest" is a Tim Buckley-esque heartbreaker for around the campfire. Hey Harmony is mostly as authentic as apple pie."
Bang - 5/5 (June 03)
"Hey Harmony confirms Hansen as one of the finest singer-songwriters in the world today"
Mojo - 3/5 (June 03)
"Huge in is native Norway. Lambchop-loving folkster releases his third album. One can only guess how many marshmallows met their end during the creation of 26 year old Thomas Hansen's third album, such is its air of toasty down-home convivially"
The Guardian 3/5
".His songs wrap subtle Norwegian melodies in warm Nashville chords and newfangled keyboards, a sweet simplicity fighting against his depressive tendencies, the on-the-road fantasies masking his confining reality. This are great pop tunes, adorned by a delicate falsetto recalling Neil Young at his most affecting and Morten Harket at his most comforting.
“ Hey Harmony” was also elected as Sunday Times’ Album of the Week in late May.
June 17 sees St. Thomas ending a successful European tour at the Spitz in London.
St. Thomas’ releases are licensed to City Slang in Europe and Misra Records in the US. sd
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CD Releases, Press\Outside Norway