Just look at that album cover: a view of the landscape passing by your car, as wide open and glorious as anything. Its baron nakedness accentuates its beauty, with only a distant small town and foggy mountan ranges in the background. This is where Kristian Matsson resides, with nothing but his guitar (once in a while he'll bust out a piano), on the open road with no start or finish. Underneath the moniker The Tallest Man On Earth, Matsson plays folk tunes that are unforced and free-flowing, like a waterfall beckoning you to jump into. Some albums are great additions to a long trip on the road, best served to stay in the stereo, but The Wild Hunt
becomes more the longer the trip goes. Matsson has a way about him that gives off an incredible vibe of comfort that shines through his varied, powerful strumming and sultry words about the places he's been and places he's dreamed of.
While Matsson's songs are soft and nurturing, his voice is like an attack, sharp and strong. It's grating in the way a metal-toothed comb brushes your hair - a jolt to the system but after a while it becomes a pleasure. Comparison's to Bob Dylan are nigh-impossible to avoid, however there is a key difference: while Dylan seemed like he was always on a mission, Matsson is flowing with the breeze, allowing his songwriting to take natural shapes along with his voice that stands for everything and nothing simultaneously. His lyrics paint pictures of vivid memories, memories that don't really amount to anything other than little pieces of his past, which fit like a puzzle until the picture is full. "King Of Spain", a melodically and rhythmically brilliant song, is like a bird's eye view of the vine-riddled streets of true Spain, a place where Matsson recalls different cities and events that shaped his adventure into such that he ends up declaring that he "wants to be the king of Spain" in an outcry. Each track on The Wild Hunt
is varied yet weaves an attached web that acts like a bed beneath water-drenched leaves where Matsson's voice rests; the opening title track is a swinging ode to leaving home, "Burden Of Tomorrow" features drastic chord changes and nods to various forces of weather, "Troubles Will Be Gone" is finger plucking at its finest. Whatever Matsson decides to throw at his guitar, it's ready and welcoming to it.
While I'm not versed in folk music by any means, The Wild Hunt
is one of those rare albums that will stick with you for some good time. Certainly one of the best folk albums I've ever heard (in my tiny, tiny collection) and one of the most endearing albums of the year. Kristian Matsson has opened the decade with something entirely fresh and yours
; The Wild Hunt
is an album to subjectively cherish.