Review Summary: This promising EP shows an already tall artist further growing in stature
It was only five months ago that Kristian Matsson, known to us as The Tallest Man On Earth, released the finger-picked flurry of delight that was The Wild Hunt
. And although this new EP is supposed to bear no familial relation to it, one can’t help but feel it’s like the album’s muted cousin. Whilst it lacks the feeling of optimism running through The Wild Hunt
, it makes up for it with plaintive introspection.
put Matsson firmly on the map as a quality songwriter of the Dylan school, but although the tracks were all well-constructed, they seemed to be missing that extra touch that makes songs great. It was as if he knew what a great song was supposed to sound like, but feigned the intimacy therein. The Wild Hunt
showed that he could write songs that had heart and this EP expands on that success whilst adding a sense of sombreness and mourning that is, at times, breathtaking. ‘Like A Wheel’ captures this best; his voice, so often a tool of wailing power, is dampened, vulnerable and sometimes scared. You may not even notice the background piano chimes at first, but they add a cold and expansive ambience to the track that must be reminiscent of the mountainous region of Dalarna, Sweden that Matsson calls home.
The album opener, ‘Little River’, at first sounds very familiar. Its main vocal melody is similar to The Wild Hunt
’s title track, but it feels different. It’s a stark example of how subtly Matsson has crafted this little set of songs to contrast with the moods of his previous work. Despite limited instrumentation, Matsson seems to be able to inject any feeling he wants into a song and does so with a casual ease.
Whilst only standing at five tracks, the EP also makes room for a surprise or two, most notably when The Tallest Man ‘goes electric’, much like the great musician to whom he is so often compared to, on ‘The Dreamer’. Matsson shows that his grasp of the dynamics of the electric guitar are just as strong as his grasp on the acoustic as he sings perhaps the most glorious melody of his short career so far: “Sometimes the blues’ just a passing bird / why can’t that always be?”
All in all this auspicious EP achieves a great deal in a short space of time, serving to highlight the fact that Matsson is a musician of the highest calibre, and one capable of evoking more emotional facets than you would normally expect from your everyday acoustic folk guitarist.
Written for www.nightbus.tumblr.com