If you’ve never listened to the Tallest Man On Earth, imagine a pitch-perfect Bob Dylan.
I’m sure Kristian Matsson is just about sick and tired of being likened to Bob Dylan, but one can’t avoid the parallels between the two in the new album The Wild Hunt. Matsson even drops the Dylan lyrics /I’ll wear my boots of Spanish leather/ in the track King Of Spain.
But Kristian Matsson, more commonly known by his musical moniker The Tallest Man On Earth, is more than just another Bob Dylan wannabe, far from it.
The Swedish folk singer can write poetry in English better than the vast majority of British people. Like many contemporary folk artists he has mined the American South for influence, so skepticism is understandable. However it doesn’t take long to see that Matsson’s charm and modesty, which is increasingly uncommon, makes him something unusually memorable. His songs aren’t showy or overly complicated (that’s not to say his vocal and fingerpicked guitar skills aren’t incredibly impressive), but the complexity comes across in the knowledge that he is channeling his emotions and expresses himself therapeutically through his songwriting.
The skeletal rawness of Matsson’s style has thankfully not been abandoned in this his second album, The Wild Hunt. Rarely does a lone acoustic guitar sound so sufficiently full and powerful. For an album consisting almost entirely of one-man-and-guitar, it doesn’t lack surprises. The control Matsson has over the emotions portrayed through his music shows him veering from contemplative to the ventilation of woe. His gravelly, sharp vocals deliver a seemingly urgent message through his traditionally folky, metaphorical lyrics.
As the soft and simple strummed guitar is heard on the opening track The Wild Hunt, the contrasting vocals that follow are as unexpected as they are welcome.
Burden Of Tomorrow is a real standout track on the album, revealing the freedom of Matsson’s wandering vocal range and phenomenal lyrical talent /Rumour has it that I wasn't born/ I just walked in one frosty morn/ Into the vision of some vacant mind/
Matsson is a natural-born folk singer and one can only wish him a continued old-fashioned success story in the true folk style.
9th June, 2010