This is the first of two reviews I'm posting today. Both albums have been in circulation for a few weeks at this stage but are such fantastic additions to any itunes library/record collection (I'm far too young to use the phrase "back in the day..." but damn I miss the era of CDs ruling over MP3...) that I felt the need to post about them!
The Tallest Man on Earth is the moniker used by Swedish folk musician Kristian Matsson. He is not the tallest man on earth (that honour belongs to Sultan Kosen, a Turkish national who stands at a whopping 247cm - 8ft 1. That's pretty crazy. I'm pushing 5ft 10 I think...) but is a bloody fine folk musician.
In 2008, Matsson released his first full length record Shallow Grave to wide ranging appeal. Due to the inevitable vocal comparisons (he has a magnificent, Dylan-esque croak), he was the latest thrown onto the heap of the "new Dylan" - a tag that has been banded about for damn near every folk musician who releases a good debut. Following it up with a second record worthy of that moniker was going to be the real challenge.
Late last year, the track King of Spain was released as a free download. Since then, Matsson has cropped up in almost every alternative blog I've read. The song (to the few who haven't heard it) was a pretty lively folk affair adorned with Matsson very distinctive vocals over an acoustic guitar. A great song.
As a taster for the album, King of Spain was fantastic. Set the bar very high, surely the full length would be a disappointment? Thankfully not! It comes in at just under 35 minutes and leaves the listener longing for more.
The real strength on this album is the stunning imagery that Matsson weaves. He could easily fall by the wayside in the plethora of folk musicians coming to the fore in recent years, though his glorious interpretations of the Swedish countryside are akin to Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and more. It is an intimate and ragged affair, haunting in parts yet it retains a hopeful air.
While Matsson does not contribute anything new to the genre, this release stands as one of the finest additions that we've seen in a very long time. The Wild Hunt feels authentic and honest - the guitar and lyrics avoid pretension while remaining at a very high standard from start to finish.
Album closer, Kids on the Run, is a refreshing standout. As a piano driven ballad, it has an entirely different feel to the rest of the record yet it does not feel out of place. It is as personal and deep as the rest of the record. It sits as one the highlights of an incredible record, along with King of Spain and Burden of Tomorrow.
A gorgeous, intimate work. Essential.
The Tallest Man on Earth, The Wild Hunt: 8.5/10.
- Cork, Ireland
- An Irish based alternative music blog. Music news, gigs, live reviews, album reviews... You'll find them here. If you want anything featured or removed, please shout. I hope you'll discover something new to love on this little experiment of mine. Currently editing the Music Section of the UCC Express and contributing to Motley magazine on campus, as well as writing for PopCultureMonster and 4FortyFour. Always looking for new projects so please get in touch if interested. Thanks for reading.