A 14 track album can seem intimidating to listeners, but on Second Hand War Thomas Charlie Pedersen makes it easy to digest by breaking up longer songs with small interludes which all culminates to a solid LP.
It all kicks off with “High Dust Devil,” full of folk like storytelling and plenty of harmonica to keep listeners engaged. Sounding like something The Beatles could have released in their later years as a band, albeit a bit more stripped down then what is expected of the fab four . There’s no doubt about the fact that song is mostly quiet, but it makes quite a statement and rolls along at a midtempo pace that suits Pedersen’s overall sound. The lyrics are interesting and keep the listener wanting to hear more and Pedersen’s vocals are pitch perfect, busting into his falsetto on the chorus, displaying that he is in complete control of his voice. It’s a great start to the record and gives the audience a good taste of what is in store for them as they make their way through the rest of the LP.
One of the most interesting turns is the under two minutes “Uneasy Feeling.” A piano brings a dark tone to the song and this time Pedersen’s vocals match that vibe with every note he sings, delving into his deeper register. It’s haunting and one of the most memorable songs on the album. Because it’s one of those short in between songs, in a way it serves to cleanse the palate for the more standard tunes, but it is so much more than that. One can tell Pedersen puts just as much effort into these little interludes as he does the more standard tracks.
As soon as “For You” opens with its acoustic guitar, one can plainly see the similarities between this riff and the riff in the Beatles “Blackbird.” Intentional or not that familiar feeling may help listeners gravitate even more than usual to the track. The melody is simple, so much so that it feels a bit like a church hymn, especially with lyrics like “heal my wounds,” but it never comes across as too plain or repetitive. It’s just a sweet, short tune that we’re all lucky enough to get to hear.
“Letter From The Dead” sees Pedersen dictating a letter to someone who is very important in his life. The concept of the song is brilliant and the lyrics are simple but also extremely heartfelt and honest. With a piano tinkling in the background as the main instrumentation, it helps Pedersen get his message along with easily, no bells and whistles needed. It sounds like something Paul McCartney could have written and performed, and this is only fostered by Pedersen’s vocals which have more than a touch of McCartney to them, soothing to listen to, but also purposeful. With lyrics like “are all your sad songs love songs” it’s a song that one should put on repeat to listen closely to as one might find something different to appreciate upon each rotation. It’s the best on the album hands down.
Not every track on the album is as good at the aforementioned songs. “I For One” is ok but it doesn’t have much of a melody and can’t compare when one stacks it against the other tunes on the LP. The same problem plagues “Sycamore Street,” in which the story is good, but there isn’t much that is memorable in the songs melody which is a shame. Meanwhile “Kill With Kindness” drags on for far too long and that length , almost seven minutes, seems out of place on the album.
Still, Pedersen has crafted a fine album worth listening to, especially if one is into clever singer/songwriters.