Thomas Charlie Pedersen – Second Hand War

At initial inspection, you might tally up the fourteen songs on Thomas Charlie Pedersen’s first solo release Second Hand War, read some press about its acoustic thrust, and feel a little wary. Fourteen songs and there’s three instruments in the whole mix? Sounds a little excessive. One can imagine people thinking, oh jeez, another reflective bit of pretentious song craft from some suffering thirtysomething with an overinflated sense of their poetic importance.

You would be wrong on all such counts with Pedersen and his new album. Many of the album’s songs run shorter than three minutes and a surprising number are instrumental tracks. Pedersen, certainly, can turn a phrase, but his ambition isn’t winning acclaim for his poetic gifts. Pedersen and his album Second Hand War clearly wants audiences to think and, most importantly, feel.

High Dust Devils opens the album with an appropriately moody backing, vocal, and lyrical content. You can’t ever really label the album as dark, despairing, or whatnot, but there’s certainly a melancholy thread running through the album as a whole. It’s never overstated either. The careful acoustic guitar playing is never cold or sterile; instead, the melodies move with a sort of stateliness listeners might find surprising.

Letter From The Dead will rate high with many listeners as Second Hand War’s lyrical high point. Later tracks will rate high as well, but this marks the album’s first real elaboration on Pedersen’s lyrical gifts. He’s ideally suited for interpreting his own work as well.

Uneasy Feeling, the lyrical bookend to the album’s preceding title track and brief instrumental, faintly recalls Elton John’s prime without any of the bombast. It’s totally supported by piano and Pedersen has an uncanny talent for perfectly dovetailing his voice with his work on the keys.

Sycamoore Street is, in some ways, a twin of the aforementioned song. The differences lay in the songwriting. While it is a piano ballad, like the earlier track, Pedersen’s focus as a writer here is much more specific and tied to a sense of place rather than the other interior dialogue listeners are made privy to in the earlier song.

One of the sweeter musical confections on Second Hand War, For You, shows off a lot of the effortless pop chops distinguishing Pedersen’s full time band, Vinyl Floor.

Kill With Kindness, easily the longest track on the album, figures as a climax by virtue of its late placement in the running order. It will certainly compete with the earlier song Letter From The Dead as the epochal moment on the release, but others might hear a song that sags under its lack of melodic variation. The lyrics, as always, maintain a sharp clarity.

The album’s final song, Good Ride, brings thing to an end on a mildly triumphant note. The song has the sort of tastefulness listeners will have come to expect from Pedersen and the same accessible, conversational poetry distinguishing much of his songwriting.

Second Hand War is a magnificent debut effort from a talented young songwriter who allows the past to inform his music with ever lapsing into outright imitation.

9 out of 10 stars

If you enjoyed the preview from Second Hand War, make sure to check out Thomas Charlie Pedersen on Facebook by clicking here & follow his band on Twitter by clicking here.

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