Review Summary: Raw and totally passionate
I find it interesting how, in our modern world, most artists are totally immersed in a worldwide music scene. The internet has allowed musicians to hear anything they want. It has enabled artists to follow trends that just 10 years ago would have been associated with a single demographic in a specific location. I think this is overall good for music. But I also think that it leads to a lot of piggybacking and copying in not just musical style, but in production methods and in marketing. I bring this up because I feel like if Kristian Mattson read this, he would have no idea what I'm talking about. The Swedish guitarist and singer, under the moniker The Tallest Man on Earth, does his own thing.
The sound is raw, even abrasive. His voice is Dylan-esque, as is his whole persona, but with the raspiness and urgency of Tom Waits. Above all, Mattson is passionate. Another word that comes to mind is dynamic. Not that this is such a rarity in vocals but the guitar is also extremely dynamic. Occasionally he pounds the hell out of the strings but at other times he softly finger-picks his instrument and makes complex riffs sound effortless. The Tallest Man on Earth makes everything sound effortless. I feel like he has mastered his instruments (guitar, voice, and for one track, piano) to the point where literally nothing impedes his expression. This proficiency lets him change tempo and volume to express himself as sincerely as possible, without ever worrying about fumbling on the guitar or missing a note.
I also want to mention that I usually think of On The Road when I listen to The Wild Hunt. When Sal is riding under the Western sky with other hitchhikers on a flatbed truck, drinking whiskey and singing. I never thought of myself as a country type either. I'm more of a city kid and wannabe intellectual type. Under most circumstances I'd dismiss Mattson after hearing half a song. Something struck me though: This is real. I felt like I was hearing real humanity and real music. The looseness and the passion (I keep reverting to this word because The Wild Hunt epitomizes it), this is what life is. Not some overproduced electronic garbage or super commercialized pop. When I am listening to The Wild Hunt that's all there is to it. Now of course I dig electronic and hip-hop and some pop music. But the point is Mattson convinces you, if only for 35 minutes, that there is nothing more real, nothing more important, nothing more authentic, than bare-bones, raw folk music and the concept of stripped-down, honest human relations which inspires it.