Nordic Music Central Viking Hero

Video of the Week – Thom Hell (Norway) – When you’re not around

Not a new song, I believe it was released a few months ago, but we’re always up for a good video and this one of a live performance of it certainly qualifies.

He is an artist and producer I come across rarely but Thom Hell (Thom Helland, to give him his full name) has been on the Norwegian scene for many years, and releases his 10th album this year. The third one, ‘God If I Saw Her Now’ (2008), reached the Top Five of the Norwegian album chart and earned him two Norwegian Grammy awards (Best Male Artist and Best Pop Composer). With ‘All Good Things’ (2010) he received another Norwegian Grammy award for Best Male Artist.

He is also one of the most active touring artists in Norway, with 40 concerts in the autumn of 2021, and more than 80 concerts scheduled so far for the coming year.

His influences are wide and include Paul McCartney, The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, Genesis and Neil Young, quite an eclectic bunch.

One of the main attractions of listening to and featuring Thom Hell is that he occupies a category we rarely feature, that of fairly mainstream pop, albeit cultured mainstream. For all the talk of Pink Floyd and Genesis I’ve previously likened him more to artists like Gilbert O’Sullivan, and the more contemporary Tom Odell, and especially so with the jangly piano style used in this song. In fact I’d like to see him try a cover or two, perhaps O’Sullivan’s ‘Alone Again’ or ‘Nothing Rhymed’. It isn’t just the musical similarity; the entire mode of the song is reminiscent of the Irishman.

Lush songs like this necessitate highly competent musicians to deliver them and they’re around every fjord in Norway. Studio credits for ‘When you’re not around’ are Thom Hell on vocals, piano, bass and guitars, Jason Falkner on electric guitar, Vidar Ersfjord on synths, and Bjarte Jørgensen on drums.

But in the video I spy Ronny Yttrehus on the (gold) guitar and in 1969 Haight-Ashbury shirt and I have to mention him because Ronny is one of many unsung icons of the Norwegian scene, a fixture in live performances (and some studio work) for artists such as Josefin Winther, Unni Wilhelmsen, Sol Heilo and Linnea Dale, inter alia. And the sophisticated guitar breaks, which perfectly complement a polished song, tell you why he is.

‘When you’re not around’ is out now on Lost Boy Records.

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