The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now (Dead Oceans)
June 27, 2012 by Andrew Holland
Stick a pin in the map halfway between Nick Drake and Bob Dylan and you’ll find Kristian Matsson, the ecletic Swedish folksinger also known as The Tallest Man On Earth. There’s No Leaving Now is the third album from Matsson and it finds him exploring somewhat happier material than his previous efforts, but is still comparable to Blood On The Tracks in warmth and Five Leaves Left in pure songwriting ability. The Dylan comparisons are hard to ignore, with Matsson’s butter knife-like voice and penchant for dazy open tunings simultaneously creating a bright, nostalgic atmosphere and delightful emotional realism.
Make no mistake, it’s very, very good, but also a particularly puzzling effort. Lyrically it’s a labyrinth of cryptic phrases and poeticisms that require the listener to decipher their own meaning. Of course, they could just be the lyrics of someone who doesn’t have English as a first language, but I think in this case we’ll give the songwriter the benefit of the doubt. The sparse beauty of the title track is an argument in favour of this; mysterious, enigmatic even, but the overall feel of a shimmering love song. This is music to be listened to over and over; the sparse instrumentation belies a hidden depth and resonance that only reveals itself over time.
Particular highlights include lead single 1904 and Wind And Walls, a wonderfully uplifting acoustic number that shows your Frank Turners and Ben Howards of the world that you don’t have to have a huge sing-along to put smiles on peoples’ faces. It’s truly a fantastic album, but it remains to be seen just how far Matsson can go. As good as this album is, it would be wrong to say that it’s a completely original piece of work. It drips with the influence of the ‘70s folk revival, but instead of disguising this fact it is plastered over the music to the extent that you wonder if Matsson could do something different if he tried… and whether you would even want him to. The world needs someone to pick up this musical baton and run with it, and The Tallest Man On Earth could be the man to do it.