The Tallest Man on Earth
Sometimes the blues is just a passing bird
When I first heard "Shallow grave", a part of me was glad that many of my friends either don't much care for Bob Dylan or were more into the electronica-tinged indie-rock/pop that was (and still is) coming out -- without trying to keep The Tallest Man on Earth my little secret, I was one of the few people I knew who really enjoyed Kristian Matsson's music. Visiting Stockholm the summer after "Shallow grave" was released, Matsson played an outdoor show at Debaser. Refusing to pay the entrance fee, my friends and I sat on the stairs nearby. Those that didn't know of his music beforehand were converted, those of us who liked the self-titled EP and "Shallow grave" were awestruck. A few years later, Pitchfork and others have called Matsson's sophomore effort "The wild hunt" one of the best records of 2010, and, despite my mixed feelings regarding certain popular music sites, good on them: It's nice to see some light shone on a talent like The Tallest Man on Earth and, despite not making my Top 10 (a rather distressing oversight, to be honest), "The wild hunt" truly deserves to be recognized as one of the finest efforts of the year.
"Sometimes the blues is just a passing bird" is a fitting addition to Matsson's catalogue. Taking advantage of the EP format, the songs don't necessarily feel as strongly connected as the tracklists of "Shallow grave" and "The wild hunt", but this does little harm to the record's content. There are a few small departures from the usual 'a man and his acoustic guitar'-approach of previous recordings: the clean electric guitar and subtle overdubbing on "The dreamer" are wonderful, as is the piano in "Like the wheel". The lyrics are once again so good that it begs the question why someone whose first language is Swedish can write circles around most lyricists whose mother tongue is English -- "And I said, 'Oh my Lord, why am I not strong like the branch that keeps hangmen hanging on?'" Hopefully Matsson's creative output in 2011 will mirror that of 2010 -- I can't think of too many artists I would prefer new material from than The Tallest Man on Earth.
- Lars Garvey Laing-Peterson