Posts Tagged ‘Kristian Matsson’

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Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man On Earth, is a Dylan successor if there ever was one. In fact, some music writers and fans may even feel his voice is a little too reminiscent of Dylan’s. His tendency to write music that’s more raw and stripped-down paired with his strained, gruff vocals make the comparison almost too obvious. But, then again, Matsson’s music is still something singular. Across five LPs and three EPs, the Swedish singer/songwriter and fingerpicker extraordinaire has charmed his way through folk circles and indie rock strongholds alike, positioning himself as one of the finest roots musicians working. Last year, he veered away from the strictly rustic style of his first four LPs in exchange for a more elaborate setup on I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream.: horn sections, electronic blips, atmospheric effects. But at the core of all his music is Matsson’s introspective song-writing sensibilities and his banjo (or guitar, depending on the song). In honour of one of the best artists in the world of indie folk, Matsson has a broad fanbase, but The Wild Hunt in particular has steadily acquired new fans and has aged especially gracefully over the last decade. Here are 10 of our favourite songs from his catalogue.

“Sagres”

While 2015’s Dark Bird Is Home is by and large a bit of a dark spot on Matsson’s otherwise untarnished discography, there are a few moments of reprieve within it. One of those is “Sagres,” a jangly folk-pop number that pays respect to Cape Sagres, a headland in the southwest of Portugal that’s nicknamed the “end of the road.” In the song, however, Matsson toils in the end of a relationship and starts to question everything, lamenting “It’s just all this fucking doubt,” at one exasperated point in the song.

“It Will Follow The Rain”

Matsson leans fully into his folklorist side on this cut from his self-titled debut EP. Mentioning mountains, valleys and lightning strikes, this song was just the tip of iceberg when it comes to The Tallest Man On Earth’s obsession with the natural world. Some of his best work references our Mother Earth, and this song in particular contains a hopeful, pastoral energy as Matsson compares life to the fleeting nature of a rainstorm.

“Little River”

His 2010 EP Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird contains some of Matsson’s best work, not least among it being “Little River.” If it weren’t for a rolling, quickened under-beat and a rather morose conclusion (“You just sing about your own death in your closet / You stumble out into the pitch-black hallway,” he sings at one point), it’d make the perfect lullaby.

“1904”

“1904” is undoubtedly one of the jammier songs across Matsson’s eight projects, benefitting greatly from an electric guitar groove. Apparently the song references a devastating earthquake that rocked Sweden and Norway in the titular year, but you needn’t have any knowledge of natural disasters to make sense of this pleasant folk-rock tune.

“Shallow Grave”

In all honesty, there isn’t much dispute among fans about which of the Tallest Man On Earth’s albums are best: 2008’s Shallow Grave and the proceeding The Wild Hunt (2010) are almost always going to come out on top. The title track from the former contains all the elements that make this pair of albums so interesting and listenable: a relentless banjo lick, existential ramblings and Matsson’s inimitable scratchy-throated cry. The narrator here is down-on-his-luck, and Matsson finds the most lyrically beautiful ways to convey this unrest: “I found the darkness in my neighbour / I found the fire in the frost / I found the season once claimed healthy / Oh, I need the guidance of the lost.” Following his debut album Shallow Grave in 2008, Matsson was invited to tour with indie-folk lord Bon Iver.

“Troubles Will Be Gone”

The human condition is one of constant searching and exhaustion. We have no assurance that things will be “OK,” as friends and family so often try to convince us. But, at the same time, their dedication to helping us believe everything will turn out alright is in itself proof that no matter what happens, life goes on, because we have loved ones around to see us through it. Matsson infuses a near-perfect banjo melody with this promise on “Troubles Will Be Gone”: “Well the day is never done / But there’s a light on where you’re sleeping / So I hope somewhere that troubles will be gone.” The Wild Hunt, his sophomore LP released on April 13th, 2010, Matsson makes the acoustic guitar sound like an orchestra on “You’re Going Back” and the banjo like a full-throttled band on “Troubles Will Be Gone,” a song about goodwill written in the verbal style of Robert Frost. The entire album is full of these tiny orchestras and miniature choirs—a sound few of Matsson’s contemporaries were able to recreate. But many folk artists who’ve arrived in years after The Wild Hunt have seemingly been taking notes. The like-minded Joan Shelley treats her acoustic guitar with a similar reverence, instrumental artist and former Silver Jews musician William Tyler probably learned a thing or two about pacing and rhythm from Matsson and Hiss Golden Messenger’s M.C. Taylor carries on the legacy of curving his sultry, lilting vocals into a style resembling Dylan, as do Kevin Morby and Waxahatchee, who share that same distinct vocal formula. The Wild Hunt gave proceeding indie-folk artists something to aspire to in terms of both authenticity and craft.

“I Won’t Be Found”

This is, technically speaking, a lovely display of Matsson’s talents. The cascade of banjo is enough to convince anyone to be on his side. But the lyrics, too, help you root for Matsson, as he projects plans for the future before realizing that, if he’s not focusing on the present, he might as well be asleep. “Well if I ever get that slumber / I’ll be that mole deep in the ground,” he sings. “And I won’t be found.”

“Burden of Tomorrow”

Who among us hasn’t fretted over what tomorrow will bring? Here, Matsson promises a partner he’ll be one less thing to worry about, while also acknowledging that while we can think about the future all we want, we truly have no clue what it will bring. We just have to meet it when it comes: “Oh but hell I’m just a blind man on the plains,” he sings over pristine guitar. “I drink my water when it rains / And live by chance among the lightning strikes.” Stylistically, The Wild Hunt isn’t all that different from the mystical, lean and perhaps even more lyrically forthright Shallow Grave. The Wild Hunt is only four minutes longer than Shallow Grave’s half-hour runtime, and like its predecessor, it only features a handful of instruments—never drums—and little to no production effects. Where Bon Iver may flirt with the occasional droning feedback and Marcus Mumford a thundering electric guitar solo, Matsson was strictly acoustic and, usually, strictly analogue. While he has a knack for layered wordplay in the vein of Dylan, rusticity was—and remains—his greatest strength. Kristian Matsson injected light and love into a form of music-making that was half-a-century old at this point, and he made it into something new, singular and sustainable. The Wild Hunt remains an aspirational album in that regard—few roots artists have managed to finesse such an act since.

“Love Is All”

“Love Is All” is The Tallest Man On Earth’s “hit”—and for good reason. It’s the perfect entry point into his catalogue and a damn good folk song in its own right. He recounts the dreadful end of a relationship, and, from the point of the listener, it sounds like he’s brusied beyond repair (“Love is all, from what I’ve heard, but my heart’s learned to kill”). But instead of dwelling on the lost “future” of this couplehood, he releases his regret: “Here come the tears / But like always, I let them go / Just let them go.” Further perfecting his tilted, Dylan-esque vocal delivery, Matsson (who, miraculously, learned English as his second language) spends the bulk of The Wild Hunt spitting out sturdy metaphors and basking in a pastoral wonderland. The album’s high points—including the back-to-back pair “King of Spain” and “Love is All,” easily two of his most popular singles to date—are the closest things you’ll ever hear to pop songs in The Tallest Man On Earth’s catalogue. The former expresses desire to pack up and start life over at a lover’s side on Spanish shores, while the latter is a kind of all-encompassing epic poem about the beauties and dangers of love. That may sound like a grandiose description, but Matsson has a way of making even the shortest folk song into something almost biblical. “Like a house made from spider webs and the clouds rolling in / I bet this mighty river’s both my saviour and my sin,” he sings on the spritely “Love is All.”

“The Gardener”

The Tallest Man on Earth’s “The Gardener” is a metaphorical story of hiding one’s ugliness to better be the apple of a lover’s eye. The verses are patterned a certain way, each a distinct scene recounting a figurative body buried, with the sort of subtle variations that keep you grasping always for the next lyric, imagining the garden you have made.

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I wake up, put a palm to my forehead like the day before, and the day before that. Sure, it’s still going on. Severe cabin fever. The internet is not a cure. My long time friend Rolf decided to come down and check in on me, I was not making sense over the phone anymore. Maybe he was checking in on himself as well. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. Now he’s put together a 15 min short film about our day. It’s just about us finding out there’s still joy to be found, still hope and dreams about stuff we want to do in the future. Second half is me recording a new version of an old song of mine.

The Tallest Man on Earth has cabin fever. A short film by Rolf Nylinder

For this Friday’s livestream on my YouTube channel, I’m only going to play songs written by other people. And, my cover of Jesus, Etc. by Wilco is available on Bandcamp thetallestmanonearth.bandcamp.com. All proceeds from the song will benefit Newport Folk Festival Musician Relief Fund, which provides financial relief to musicians in the Folk and Jazz community.

Hey dear ones, I hope you are well out there. This week’s YouTube livestream will be an all request show, only covers. And a bunch of rambling I guess.

Tracks:

3:33 The Bluest Eyes in Texas – Restless Heart 9:13 I Waited for You – Daniel Norgren 15:51 Blues Run The Game – Jackson C. Frank 22:19 Fade Into You – Mazzy Star 29:09 Come in From The Cold – Joni Mitchell 34:50 Two Headed Boy/In The Aeroplane Over The Sea/The King of Carrot Flowers – Neutral Milk Hotel 41:08 Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend 49:05 The Roving – Bonny Light Horseman 56:16 Re:Stacks – Bon Iver 1:06:00 Secret Heart – Ron Sexsmith 1:15:40 These Days – Jackson Browne 1:24:09 When We Were Young – Adele

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Sweden’s Kristian Matsson – aka The Tallest Man On Earth – emerged as one of the most charismatic, entertaining new singer-songwriters in the world. Scowering the stage menacingly at solo performances which became infamous, his gritty twang of a voice and stunningly intricate guitar lines made early comparisons to Bob Dylan not all that ridiculous.

I will play “Weather Of A Killing Kind”. I will play other songs. I will water the plants. Kristian playing his Joni Mitchell covers. And that Bon Iver cover was so beautiful!.

I’m going to do another YouTube livestream / hang from my room this Friday, April 17th at 3pm eastern time (21:00 CET). I’m still learning how to do these, I will try to tame the buffering monster the days leading up to it.

TRACK LIST: 3:27 Fields Of Our Home 9:03 För sent för Edelweiss 16:26 Museum of Flight 23:28 Weather of a Killing Kind 32:15 A Case Of You 43:00 Winds and Walls 52:20 Tougher Than the Rest 57:40 Blood Bank 1:08:46 1904 1:21:33 ‘I want to go everywhere’ (Not an actual song, I just like his strumming pattern 🙂 1:22:44 Like The Wheel 1:25:40 Eva Dahlgren is the musician, but I don’t know the song.  1:27:59 ‘The Most Beautiful of Souls’ (I don’t know the song, sorry!)

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The Tallest Man on Earth, aka Kristian Matsson, is a folk musician from Sweden. Like so many, his tour was cancelled due to the spread of COVID-19. Like numerous other musicians, he has taken to social media to perform instead. He has taken stabs at some other songs, including “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again”,

His cover of “Jesus Etc.” is mostly simple. He has rearranged the music for solo acoustic guitar, playing with the tempo and feel of the song, while mostly keeping the vocal melody intact. However, he plays with the vocal, especially when he gets to the bridge. Though the performance seems live at first, he has actually added an additional instrument, what sounds like a keyboard, for the climax, and some visual flourishes, so it’s not just him sitting on an ottoman. His performance is both familiar and very distinct from the original song.

The Tallest Man on Earth covering Wilco. My life might now be complete,

“Jesus Etc.” is one of the more memorable tracks from Wilco’s (in)famous “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”. YHF was the album which got them expelled from their label, only to be streamed free on the internet by the band and become a consensus pick for best album of 2001 (and, finally, land them at another label that was part of the same parent label that kicked them out in the first place!). The song has remained a staple of their live shows for years and is a fan favourite.

The original from Wilco’s (in)famous “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”.

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Kristian Matsson is a singer-songwriter from Dalarna, Sweden, who performs under the stage name of The Tallest Man on Earth. Matsson grew up in Leksand, and began his solo career in 2006, having previously been the lead singer of the indie band Montezumas. His music has often drawn comparisonsto the music of Bob Dylan.

“Last summer, Kristian Matsson lamented that steady touring had slowed the arrival of “I Love You. It’s a Fever Dream”., his fifth album as the Tallest Man on Earth. “I can’t write good stuff on tour,” he complained. “I can’t write about life on a tour bus.” Ironically, Fever Dream arrives as a focused and frequently lovely rumination on life lived on a tour bus. Songs unfold in hotel bars, on open roads, beneath vast blue bowls of rural sky. The rhythms of perpetual travel pulse beneath acoustic melodies that lie somewhere between Dylan and Sufjan—a few gentle, a few forceful. With depth and delicacy, Matsson explores the banalities and oddities of tour, like the phenomenon of performing for an adoring audience to whom you are a stranger.

Matsson’s music mirrors his lyrical themes. Though he remains devoted to sparse arrangements of guitar, banjo, and harmonica, these songs begin toveer into more adventurous territory. “Hotel Bar” introduces a horn section, and “The Running Styles of New York” is bookended by momentary blips of electronics. These new elements are deployed sparingly and selectively, a sprinkle of salt to draw new favourite from familiar sound. Tempos vary, too, from raucous stomping to slow, plaintive fingerpicking—as if he’s stretching, sprinting, growing fatigued, slowing down. As in his words, he wrestles with the quesstion of where to go, and how quickly.”

The Tallest Man On Earth’s album ‘I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream.’

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There’s a prevailing image of The Tallest Man of Earth — Swedish folk singer Kristian Matsson’s musical moniker  of a wayward, sometimes homesick vagabond in the constant pursuit of adventure.

Gotta say, I really wasn’t expecting to say this, given my love of the previous albums The Wild Hunt and “Shallow Grave”, but The Tallest Man on Earth has possibily just put out the best record of his career (and among my favorite records of 2019 so far). This is, what he should sound like, what he’s been trying to sound like the last few records and didn’t start to really get his footing on until the demo project a few years back and the EP he slowly dripped out last year. There’s an urgency to it, but a considered one, one that comes with time and heartbreak and rebuilding your life and figuring out what exactly matters. It’s lush in all the right ways and at all the right times, and bare in all the right ways at all the right times, and a combo of the two in all the right ways at all the right times. It’s an astoundingly gorgeous and engrossing album, and I’m so glad we finally hear the sound he’s seemingly been chasing for over a decade.

The Tallest Man On Earth’s album ‘I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream.’

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A decade-plus into his career and it seems that Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man On Earth is re-finding his voice. “The Running Styles of New York” finds its footing somewhere in the sweet spot between the raw, urgent work of Matsson’s early work and the lush-sounding output from his last few full-lengths, much like the songs on the tremendous EP he slowly revealed last year. It’s weird to say this after all this time, but I think this might be the best The Tallest Man on Earth has ever sounded.

Head and shoulders above the rest, Swedish indie folk star Kristian Matsson is The Tallest Man on Earth. Having got everyone excited with his newly released single ‘The Running Styles Of New York’, Matsson also announces a UK tour following his slot support Bon Ivor at All Points East.

“The Running Styles Of New York” is from The Tallest Man On Earth’s forthcoming album ‘I Love You. It’s A Fever Dream.’ out in April.

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“Fly in Numbers” is the eighth episode of The Light in Demos, a video project produced, written, directed, recorded, shot and edited by The Tallest Man on Earth. Trumpets and French Horns arranged, performed and recorded by CJ Carmieri.

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“I’m a Stranger Now” is the seventh episode of The Light in Demos, a video project produced, written, directed, recorded, shot and edited by The Tallest Man on Earth.