Saint Thomas - There's Only One of Me
You probably won't have heard of Thomas Hansen before. Indeed, you could probably go through life without knowing who Thomas Hansen is, but take this piece of advice: familiarise yourself with Thomas Hansen. Absolutely no relation to Beck or the other three, the Norwegian folkie has had quite the interesting life. Having supposedly jacked in his job as a postman when he became familiar with the likes of Elliott Smith and Will Oldham's music, the Oslo native released several moderately successful albums in the early part of the century and toured them with the likes of Lambchop and Of Montreal. However, his addiction to alcohol and anti-depressants led him to lash out at friends, fire and re-hire band members and spiral into debilitating depressions (the Anton Newcombe of the folk world, in other words).It wasn't until earlier this year that, disillusioned with life and the music industry, he set up his own label (Cornerman Records), completed his sixth album and finally checked himself into rehab. The resultant material, There's Only One of Me, is an appropriately downbeat collection of songs slathered in self-doubt and paranoia, and Hansen's admiration of both Smith and Oldham - as well as On the Beach-era Neil Young - is more than evident on the vast majority of the tracks. Into Your Deep's claustrophobic, dense composition wraps itself around lyrics like 'You've been feeling the same for 9 months in a row / You'd better write that letter before you fall further Into Your Deep', while My Morning's blithe country-folk rhythm juxtaposes with its air-of-desperation lyrics: 'Don't leave me with my doctor on the telephone / He'll set me up with some medicine / A medicated dog'. It's not all doom and gloom, though; at times, parallels with droll Scandanavian compatriot Jens Lekman are easily drawn (The Dinner Party).Musically, There's Only One Of Me is almost as organic as you can get: soft acoustic strummings are occasionally supplemented with harmonica, banjo and light percussion, and Hansen's wistful vocals are bittersweet but importantly, not boring. Quite a lovely album.
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