To begin, I knew very little about Kristian Matsson and his project The Tallest Man on Earth. But, his second album, The Wild Hunt, will not only change that for me, but for many listeners across the globe. It’s easy to place the Swede’s work in a certain genre, even under a certain association with a famed folk hero, but throughout the duration, Matsson makes this album all his own, creating a beautiful piece of work to be played over and over again.
You’ll start The Wild Hunt with the two things that will stick with you eternally: incredible finger-picking and the uncanny resemblance to a young Boy Dylan. The former is one of those things that enables Kristian to pull out every single emotion from his tunes, carefully plotting where his fingers go with ease. The latter is something that might plague him, which is unfortunate, as every song on here stands on its own merit, creating a great collective song cycle.
A lot of folk music has the capability to seem redundant, especially when you feel as if you have heard the singer before, but a few deviations make The Wild Hunt rise above typical folk revivalists. For one, his songs are rather short, in comparison to similar artists. It allows him to make really succinct songs such as “Thousand Ways” or “Troubles Will Be Gone.” These songs will breath fresh air into your listening experience, and they’ll leave before you grow tired of hearing them blend into the next number. Then there is the tiniest vocal inflections he puts into his recorded performances that make Kristian stand out in what can sometimes be branded a stale world. Every slight move up or down on the scales, or every little yelp allows the vocals to stand on their own, rather than live in a world of comparisons.
Listening to this album time and time again, I found it difficult to discover a favorite track, as each listen, each mood evoked something different for me. At first, it was “King of Spain,” which comes off like a folk song written by a steam engine. On top of that, the subject matter of the song wins me over with its nod to the Iberian Peninsula. But, “You’re Going Back” took me in a different direction. It has hints, at least in the song structure of a lot of old punks who’ve turned to country, such as Chuck Ragan, with it’s throaty yell of “driver please don’t go that f**cking way” near the last minute of the tune. Here you find The Tallest Man on Earth getting carried away with his own passion, and that definitely makes each song a winner in my book.
Fortunately for me, this album came across my desk while I was in search of something calming, yet something challenging. The gentle moods created by songs like ‘The Drying of the Lawns” fit perfectly into what I needed at the time. Then I looked back at the whole of The Wild Hunt, and I found that each song had something to offer, and nothing to throw out the window. The Tallest Man on Earth has made a complete record worthy of repeat listening, now and forever.
Download: Tallest Man on Earth – King of Spain [MP3]