Review Summary: Stunning
Many folk artists are compared to the greatness that is Bob Dylan, but 99 percent of the time these comparisons lack the depth, and are pretenders that are just not worthy being mentioned in the same sentence as Dylan. But when The Tallest Man On Earth, (Kristian Matsson) released his debut album, Shallow Grave
the comparisons came thick and fast. One would think, that once again, it was just another hipster trying to be like their idol, yet The Tallest Man On Earth had that rawness, deep storytelling and amazing musical interplay to back up any comparison to Dylan, making it almost justifiable bar his lack of a catalogue. The problem for Mattson was always going to be the sophomore album, due to all his critical acclaim from Shallow Grave
, but The Wild Hunt
exceeds all expectations and makes for some of the best listening in folk music for a long time.
Matsson keeps his recordings simple, just like his debut. His amazingly brash voice and fantastic guitar playing lock so well together that they tingle the ears with their unique texture. The opening and title track, “The Wild Hunt” exemplifies this as Matsson croons all over the mellow yet upbeat tune with a sorrowful themed lyrical basis:
“I left my heart to the wild hunt a-comin
I live until the call
And I plan to be forgotten when I'm gone
Yes I'll be leavin' in the fall”
The album is oozing with greatness and perfection as it twists and turns between themes of optimistic hope and the heart wrench of loss and love. The guitar playing is phenomenal, particularly on “Troubles Will Be Gone”, a jazzy and upbeat finger picked tune. In contrast, “Love Is All” is a down tempo, depressing affair which features gentle strumming and some intricate soloing played over the top. It also has some beautiful yet saddening lyrics:
“And now spikes will keep on falling from the heavens to the floor
The future was our skin and now we don't dream anymore
No, we don't dream anymore.
Like a house made from spider webs and the clouds rolling in
I bet this mighty river's both my saviour and my sin
Oh, my saviour and my sin.”
The two – I say this lightly, seeing as every single track is perfection – best or standout songs on the album, “A Lion’s Heart” and “The King of Spain”, could easily be the two best folk songs of the decade. “King of Spain” is flamenco inspired and Matsson plays the part perfectly with his impeccable guitar skills. Simple guitar work and heart wrenching vocals “King of Spain” makes you swoon all over Matsson’s playing and vocal call and response as the track gallops along to the final climax chorus, where Matsson’s vocals really take off. While “A Lion’s Heart” isn’t as crash and bang as “King of Spain”, it definitely makes up for it in its catchy chorus lines and sing a long verses that make the listener yearn for more. Closing track “Kids On The Run” takes a completely different twist on Matsson’s standard folk approach. Starting with ominously resonating sounding piano and vocal melodies that could make a grown man cry, Matsson has created a monster of a song as it embodies every good thing of his music and takes it to a level we have not seen before.
The Wild Hunt
is one of those albums that is just unbelievable. When Matsson released Shallow Grave,
many were worried that he was not going to back up his sensational work, yet Matsson has proved them wrong and has written the first of the decade's classic albums. Encompassing all that is great about folk music and adding his own twists and unique vocal styling’s, The Tallest Man On Earth’s The Wild Hunt
is an album that should be remembered for generations.