There exist few roadblocks between Kristian Mattson and his intrepid path to crafting his second full-length album under the moniker The Tallest Man on Earth. The product, a decidedly confident deliverance is a sweet, simple and melodious message. Rather, a resolute and sustained focus on producing a masterfully rootsy yet undeniably refined and unique record resonates supremely from The Wild Hunt. The Tallest Man on Earth looms largely and singularly on this album, bringing truest meaning to the term solo album, as he wisely opts to offer a ten song set centered primarily around his voice, an acoustic guitar and the occasional banjo track. Mattson possesses such a delicate yet firm command over the English language and his lyrics emanate such a Bob Dylan like witticism that learning of his Swedish origins after thoroughly dissecting the art object itself was truly mind blowing.
Whether it be while launching into an effusive tirade of bitter love in “King of Spain” or hiding behind self-deprecation in “The Wild Hunt,” the album’s opener, there is no question that passion does not elude his lyrical intentions, however the classical imperatives of self-preservation and posterity found in Romantic poetry is nowhere to be heard from The Tallest Man on Earth. And it is perhaps this selflessness, this total disavowing of the ego that endears Mattson’s music to the common listener and makes for a vastly more enjoyable experience when examining the words that are paired with the music.
On the album’s second track, “The Burden of Tomorrow,” Mattson subtly explores the tender nature inherent in facing the future. The music reflects this inchoate emotion with its quiet guitar strums splashing against the crescendos of Mattson’s recoiling vocals. The wistful balladry of the “The Drying of the Lawns,” the nostalgia-drenched reverb on the acoustic guitar is enough to make any folk lush wide eyed and beaming with enthusiasm. On “Love is All,” Mattson’s range and vision are placed brilliantly on display as he turns a single chord progression in to a riveting four-minute journey through the painstaking experience of everybody’s favorite topic: love.
Through The Wild Hunt, Mattson announces his arrival in a portentous manner, however small his podium may be. Though his fastidious studying of the early folk rock of the 1960s is evident in his songs, Mattson’s approach to structure and style is distinctly inspired by the rock and roll spirit, and while because of that his music may not break any new ground, it is unequivocally refreshing and the product of an astute listener.
Deer Tick – War Elephant
Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
Townes Van Zandt – Townes Van Zandt
MP3: “King of Spain”