Review Summary: The new kid on the folk scene shows everybody how it's done on his sophomore effort, an album which comes as close to perfect as any of its genre ever has before.
Going under the moniker 'The Tallest Man On Earth,' Kristian Matsson is slowly rising to fame as the 'new Bob Dylan,' as he's been called by far too many critics. But judging by the quality of this sophomore effort, one can't help but hold out hope for an equally prolific and amazing set of albums awaiting us from the new kid on the folk scene.
The Wild Hunt opens with the mellow strums of Matsson's guitar, which lead into the title track, a perfect opener for the album, setting the mood nicely. Matsson's key strength over other folk musicians is, in my opinion, his uncanny ability for writing instantly appealing vocal melodies. I've seen many laud his guitar playing as his greatest asset, and, while he's certainly a bit of a virtuoso at fingerpicking, it's really his voice, whilst it's infuriating to some, that sets him apart. It's abrasive at times, yes, but it's also imbued with the sort of depth and richness that hasn't really been applied to appropriate lyrics since, well, Dylan.
As the title track closes it's tapestry of wintry images and folk tales, the album flows effortlessly from one memorable, melodically appealing track to the next. It's one of the few albums from 2010 where I can honestly say there's not one track I ever skip on there, and the fact that it's 'only' 30 minutes in length shows, to me, more a concern for conciseness than a lack of ideas. If anything, Matsson is showing he's got more ideas than a lot of his contemporaries here, as he manages to keep surprising you with the different textures and atmospheres he's able to create with just that guitar playing, and that voice. Whether it's King of Spain's playful, energetic tale of a weary lover, or Thousand Ways' superb meditation on God, for an album with only 10 tracks, all very short ones at that, it's constantly fresh and, perhaps most surprisingly, only more rewarding with each listen.
Matsson does change it up a little for the final track, Kids On The Run, as he closes the album with a piano-led 'ballad' to the youth of today. The LastFM shoutbox for this track is full of people saying how mu
ch they love this combination of Dylan's and Springsteen's sounds, and it's definitely a marriage that ends the album on a high, if troublingly contemplative, note. It's one of the few albums I can remember in recent times where, as soon as my first listen was over, I immediately clicked back to track 1 to go through it all over again. It may be short, yes, his voice may be annoying to some, and his production might well be a little low budget compared to the 'My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy's of the world (which is also excellent, but in a decidedly different way) but there is something mysteriously compelling about this album, this artist, and I can only hope, as I fail to avoid the trap of the Dylan comparison at the last, that Matsson will have as long and prolific a career as the idol he's so frequently compared to.