There’s something common about the phrase “Employees Must Wash Hands”. Although it should be common sense, we see the statement in almost all public bathrooms. Like I said– common. That being said, there’s nothing “common” about Thomas Charlie Pedersen’s album with the same title. ‘Employees Must Wash Hands’ is Thomas’ band new solo album and I, for one, can not wait to on this journey with you.
“Yesterdays and Silly Ways” kicks this fifteen song album off. This opening track is soft and sweet but with an undeniable sense of infectious energy. Stylistically, this could be classified as singer-songwriter folk but I feel like there’s a bit more meat and potatoes to this opening song than what that classification would point towards. From a small horn part to steady drums and layered vocals, this song really has a lush vibe to it with an almost psychedelic influence that I found super intriguing. I instantly started to wonder if this was going to be an element that will be heard throughout the fourteen other songs.
I can’t speak for anything beyond the second song as this is my first listen through to this album but that psychedelic vibe is absolutely alive and well during “Oh, Whatever” but this song brings a haunting sense to the vocals. Again, the lush layers of vocals really do something special for this song and give it an almost vintage feeling when added to the slow and steady beat. The almost choral quality of this song is easy to get lost in but it’s also a super short song at just over two minutes and, before I knew it, the album had moved onto “Slow Passage”. “Slow Passage” has an almost surf vibe with the guitar playing that comes through during this song and it was an instant favorite of mine. I don’t know why but, as this song played through, I had a whole made-up music video playing through my head. I’m not going to tell you what the basis of that video is for fear of making you see something you don’t actually get from this song but just let me know if you too started making up visuals to go with this song as it played through.
Everything leading up to “Rains on Saturn” has been super carefree and full of life. I’m not saying that “Rains of Saturn” isn’t full of life– but it’s a darker life when it comes to this song. Showcasing the darker and more somber side of Thomas Charlie Pedersen, this song is powerful yet simple. Even with the fact that this is a slower moving track and one of the longest on this album at right around three and a half minutes, something about this song draws you in and captivates you with ease making it feel like a much quicker listen than it actually is.
When Thomas Charlie Pedersen pitched this album to me, he mentioned that the genre of the album includes singer-songwriter and honestly, “Coarse Rasp of Yore” is the first time I actually got that vibe from this album. That is not at all a judgement or anything like that. I loved that Thomas seemed to undercut himself when it comes to his own description but also loved the more classic singer-songwriter vibe that I got from this fifth song. I feel like you really get to hear Thomas’ voice in this one and with nothing more than a simple guitar and some soft drums, it steels the spotlight even when layered to create more of that choral feeling I got from “Oh, Whatever”.
“Mass in D Minor” is far from a classical song but there’s a classical quality to it that I found completely amazing. I can neither confirm nor deny if this song is actually in D Minor but there is absolutely a minor quality throughout this song that gives it an almost mysterious aura. Again, slow and steady with that broken down amusement park sound that I love to hear (you’ll know it when you hear it), I feel like this song transported me into a whole other world in a beautiful way but I was quickly shaken away from that world as “Fiddler & The Travesty” took over my house. This song is another one where Thomas’ voice really shines. It’s not as happy go lucky as some of the previous tracks and has an almost classically trained air to it which kind of caught me off guard but in all of the right ways. Think musical ballad, this is another one of those songs that instantly had me making up a video in my head.
Another instant favorite of mine from this album is “You Can’t Have It Both Ways”. Back to the more folksy psychedelic vibe that was laid out in the first couple of tracks, this song hit me as just ridiculously bright which, with the sun streaming into my house at the current moment, just hit extra hard. Lyrically, I love the story telling of this song. I feel like it is the first song that I actually found to be relatable to me personally and I loved that. I’m not saying it’s the most positive song of all time. I mean, the title is “You Can’t Have It Both Ways”, but I found a sense of comfort and warmth with every line of words and notes that passed.
The ebb and flow throughout this album is stunning and a good example of that is the transition from “You Can’t Have it Both Ways” to “Sooner Than You Think”. It’s a sudden change but, as a whole, the shift from bright and sunny to something a bit more dark and brooding works ridiculously well. This song doesn’t stay dark and brooding and actually turns into a bit of a bop but that I absolutely loved. Just as I was letting myself get lost in the bop, “Tremble and Reel” came in and knocked me back down a few pegs. Another slow and somber track, this song is worthy of being in a musical. The minimalistic approach to the instrumentation mixed with the highly emotive vocals just make this feel very Broadway-esque.
“Night of Stars” brings back the more classic singer-songwriter vibe that Thomas does so well. I love the way that his vocals dance over the simplistic guitar work. The way the two parts work together while not mimicking each other is truly a thing of beauty. Even when other instruments and vocals come in during this song, I found myself only hearing the vocals and guitar. The versatility of Thomas’ voice is staggering and the best example of that versatility is the transition from “Night of Stars” to “Organ Prayer (In E Flat)”. Again, I can neither confirm nor deny if this song is actually in E Flat but I can confirm that the way Thomas’ voice goes from indie singer-songwriter in “Night of Stars” to a more chant like classically trained vocalist for this song is something that I don’t think I’ll ever truly recover from (I mean that in all of the right ways, of course). I’ll be honest, this song was not for me as it was very chant-like but I appreciated the talent and genius of putting this song on the album.
With this fifteen song album quickly coming to an end, I was excited to see what else Thomas Charlie Pedersen had up his sleeves. “Worry Beads” brings back the vintage vibe laid out in the beginning of this album but with emphasis on the lush vocals that Thomas puts together so expertly. “Worry Beads” seems very simple at face value but, when you start to dig into this track, you hear a lot of intricacies that truly make this song the magic that it is. From an intricate organ solo to certain layers added to the vocals, there’s really a lot that went into making this song and I loved how Thomas somehow made it sound so effortless unless you’re really digging for it.
This album ends with “Beach in Vietnam” and “Stagnant Pools of Sorrow”. “Beach in Vietnam” lasts only forty-seven seconds but works as a great interlude before “Stagnant Pools of Sorrow” comes in to round everything up. With a fairytale like piano part, this song not only helps tie up some loose ends from this album but also leaves you with a little whimsy that, looking back, was scattered throughout this album all along. The triumphant power of this final instrumental track is beautiful to say the least. I’m not typically one for instrumentals but the emotions that flow through with every single note had me playing this on repeat as I went on with my day.
My Favorite Track(s): “Slow Passage”; “You Can’t Have It Both Ways”
For Fans Of: Classical Tendencies; Moodiness; A Rollercoaster Ride of an Album
Mosh-ability: 0 out of 10
What My Cats Thought Of It: All three cats screamed from the kitchen for dinner
How Badly I Want To See This Performed Live: 7 out of 10
My Overall Rating: 7.6 out of 10
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Listen to ‘Employees Must Wash Hands’ HERE!
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Check out my playlist with this track and a bunch of other amazing tracks HERE!
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