Review Summary: Kristian Matsson stays the tallest man in your eyes for five more songs.
When Kristian Matsson released The Wild Hunt
earlier this year, it pinned his soulfully barked folk ramblings firmly on the map. Though in person a diminutive man, it was an album that further cemented the idea his moniker referred not to his height but to his presence as an artist, and to his confidence in a voice that could firmly stand out to listeners. Unlike that previous release, where he yelped, shouted, and strummed until his fingers bled, Sometimes The Blues is Just a Passing Bird
is a quieter set of songs, and an EP that continues to reveal both the talent and ambition of one of the most exciting folk artists of recent years.
The tender nature of the recordings lend themselves considerably to Matsson’s warm, nostalgic imagery (“You’ll build a collection of scars on your knees / to learn how to count the impossible trees”) and slower finger plucking but perhaps the most remarkable moment on the EP comes when Matsson introduces a new element to his repertoire: he goes electric. “The Dreamer” is as gorgeous a song as he’s written and the simple, electric strumming works wonderfully behind a typically stirring vocal performance. The remaining tracks don’t stray significantly from his signature style but the slower melancholy sets them apart from the liveliness that seemed to shine through even the most sullen of his past work, which is perhaps why they weren't included in past releases. Still, it's the power of his voice that continues to pump life through the veins of his music and it's coarse, vaulting nature is harnessed beautifully in moments like the declaration "I'm not leavin' alone!" in "Tangle in this Trampled Wheat".
There's a quality about Matsson that injects charisma into even the most timid of moments and it's this that continues to blossom in his work. It's a quality that's all the more evident in his live show, where those fortunate to have attended one would've witnessed him silence an audience with just a step towards the microphone. It seems like a foregone conclusion but you’d be hard pressed to find a man who’d bet against the continuing success of Kristian Matsson and with this 20-minute addition to his catalog, there’s even more reason to get behind an artist who's showing no signs of slowing down. What’s particularly encouraging is his willingness to experiment (“Kids on the Run” off The Wild Hunt, “The Dreamer” here) and though he may not actually be the tallest man on earth, his rise and rise as an artist may just end up convincing me otherwise.