Had Kristian Matsson been born forty years earlier, he would’ve toured with Dylan, married Joni Mitchell and filled in for CSNY while Neil Young was off christening groupies. As for now, Matsson is a Swedish gypsy whose pseudonym is relatively unknown outside indie and folk circles.
What Matsson – aka The Tallest Man On Earth – does is nothing new. There’s hardly a singer-songwriter alive who hasn’t fingerpicked an open-tuned chord or slapped a capo on their fretboard. His voice also has an unmistakable Dylan croak.
The difference, however, lies in his ability to create a holistic world so descriptive it almost bleeds through the speakers.
This, his third LP, is bathed in sombreness yet is warm and naturalistic. It’s a remarkable effort, an album that takes the best from his influences but contains an essence and honesty that is staggeringly unique.
To name specific highlights would be superfluous; his unaccompanied style doesn’t vary much from track to track, though at times it’s complemented by a wistful slide guitar and a few jazzy flourishes. This minimalist approach is counterpointed by a voice that carries more wrought emotion than any orchestra.
Though Matsson has a healthy following, he is deserving of a much larger fan base (similar to, say, fellow troubadour Justin ‘Bon Iver’ Vernon). Like torchlight cornerstone, Nick Drake, perhaps his talents will become more widespread once he’s gone but let’s hope There’s No Leaving Now shifts a far brighter spotlight onto him long before that happens.
- Paul Bonadio
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