Review: The Tallest Man On Earth – There’s No Leaving Now

 

Since the release of his debut album Shallow Grave under the guise of the Tallest Man on Earth, Kristian Matsson has been dubbed the clear epitome of a genuine artist; so natural a songwriter that his lyrics seem to tumble from within him. Such discernible ease and grace make Matsson quite easily remarkable. He caws his words with detachment, an unalienating, raw adeptness. His third album There’s No Leaving Now, recorded in his home studio in Dalana, Sweden, sees the Tallest Man on Earth emanating just this.

There’s No Leaving Now sees Matsson’s lyrics remaining as sharp and jagged as his back catalogue. In featuring and relying purely on finger picking, guitar melody and vocals, he has previously demonstrated his acute awareness of the necessity to utilise brusque production methods and tunings in order to remain captivating. It is on the closing track to this third album On Every Page, where Matsson gives this brusque production the open exhibit it deserves. His voice is impassioned, vocals crack and strain ‘I don’t remember where I learnt to die, but I am humble for the rocks where I try…when I’m with you I feel the sun and salt on my face’. Vocals are accompanied by Spanish sea-shanty style finger picking. This disparity with his melancholic lyricism reverberates uneasily, enabling the Tallest Man on Earth to retain his reticence, his effortless detachment; it is enrapturing.

Whilst On Every Page, Criminals and Wind And Walls reflect this remarkable talent aptly, on the whole There’s No Leaving Now seems to neglect one of Matsson’s most refreshing and enticing artistic qualities: the brutality and raw intoxication of his voice. On the majority of the album, he no longer drags the listener chest first into his voice as it cracks and grates so mesmerisingly. On Revelation Blues, and Bright Lanterns, he seems uncomfortable to add the humour and intonation audible on The Wild Hunt. It is the rawness and vocal change in intensity Matsson gives, which has created such attentive ears in his listeners.  For the majority of his third album, it is not quite as easy to imagine his fans clinging onto every word, as he lurches forth with his narrative. It is the subtle echo which has been applied to his voice which acts as a muffle to his usual scratching, raw and untrained vocals, which has proven gripping on his past two albums.

At a time when our stages are densely populated by compelling singer-songwriters, it is a shame that Matsson has, for the most of There’s No Leaving Now, neglected his most enchanting qualities on record. Despite this, Matsson does usually stand at his most remarkable in his live performances.

Cat Gough