Kristian Mattson’s new album came out recentl. It is titled There’s No Leaving Now. Kristian, who is better known as the Tallest Man on Earth, spent five months recording Leaving in the comfort of his home. The leisurely approach he took to writing this time around, translates in the album’s more relaxed sound. In essence, all the urgency of The Wild Hunt (which reminded many of Dylan) is no longer conveyed but instead dropped for some good old laid-back folk tunes. This change is most apparent when comparing his new single, “1904” to his previous “King of Spain.”
Mattson’s career as a folk singer has always been simple, a man and a guitar. With a voice as unique as his combined with his natural musical talent, he hasn’t needed or even wanted to add anything else to the mix…until now. Leaving is Mattson’s first venture into multi-tracking. He has added woodwinds, drums, and additional guitars to create a different sound, but one which is still very distinctly Tallest Man. His guitar picking has continued to be imperfect and relatively messy but this is something fans love about his style. It’s his voice, however, that has evolved. On Leaving, he has begun to experiment with what his voice can do rather than sticking to either extremely soft or extremely piercing notes.
Whatever he does, he always clearly conveys his emotions through his lyrics especially on the tracks with dark subject matter such as “Revelation Blues”, “1904”, and “Wind and Walls.” The sometimes dark lyrics however are usually uplifted through his upbeat strumming and chord progression. This type of subject masking has been a trait of his since his first self-titled EP in 2006, specifically on the track, “The Gardner.” He has also managed to stay in tune with nature over the years which he always conveys through his lyrics like in “Bright Lanterns.”
I was lucky enough to see the Tallest Man perform live at Pitchfork Music Festival in 2010, a few months after The Wild Hunt was released and I was blown away. The most memorable moment was after he had played “All is Love” and two birds flew up from below the stage as he hit a crucial note in the song. Mattson’s seemingly effortless guitar playing and incredible stage presence makes this Swedish soloist a must see at Lollapalooza this August in Grant Park. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to purchase or stream There’s No Leaving Now either.