City Slang – 2002 – 48 minutes

Thomas Hansen might sing "I've never seen a cowboy before" but he sure has heard a few, judging by 'I'm Coming Home', his debut album for City Slang Records. The 25-year-old has a voice that's a dead ringer for Neil Young's, a nice line in yodelling and a good selection of traditional country instruments. Not unusual – apart from the fact that he's from Norway, about as far away from cowboy country as you can get.

Despite that fact, Hansen's songs sound as though they were picked from amongst the tumbleweeds of the wild, wild west. The influence of old-timers like Gram Parsons and Jimmy Webb as well as the more recent sounds of Will Oldham and Calexico have been heard loud and clear across the water in Norway and 'I'm Coming Home' is a curiously endearing mixture of these – and Hansen's own odd lyrics.

He updates 'Strangers in the Night' for the 21st century on the lonesome 'Strangers out of Blue', a wistful yet wry reflection on one-night stands ("When you wake up in the morning/In an unknown bed with an unknown girl/You can bite her in the ear and kiss her where you want/But don't let her too close"). 'Oh I Have Left the Ground' has a touch of 'Wichita Lineman' about it and Hansen sounds more than a little like a yodelling Will Oldham on the quirky 'Bookstore'. 'I'm Coming Home', however, is far more than mere pastiche. Welcome to Americana, Norwegian-style, with St Thomas.

Caroline Hennessy

Tracklisting: Cool song - Take a dance with me - Goodbye Emily Lang - Oh I have left the ground - Strangers out of the blue - Nice bottle of wine – Cornerman - She married a cowboy - Failure #1 - Bookstore - Into the forest - I'm coming home (part 2)