Review: The Tallest Man On Earth – “Dark Bird Is Home”

2.5 OUT OF 5 NUTS!

thetallestmanonearth-darkbirdishomeSweden is known for its sensible cars, tasty meatballs, and affordable but frustrating furniture, but maybe we should think about adding music to its list of top exports. In recent years the Scandinavian kingdom has given us a range of great artists like The Hives and Lykke Li, from the gentle world-folk of Jose Gonzalez to the death metal of Meshuggah, which, I am told, is the heaviest shit there is.

The latest Swedish act to cross the pond is The Tallest Man On Earth, the stage name of Kristian Matsson, who actually stands well under six feet tall, but a pretty cool handle nonetheless. On this, his fourth album, he’s graduated from simple acoustic guitar accompaniment to a really nice range of instrumentation.

The opening track, “Fields Of Our Home”, is a sweet little song starting off with a simple strummed guitar, onto which keyboard atmospherics are laid, and then a background choir transforms a rather sad lament about passed time into a hopeful wish. He is a fine lyricist:

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What if we never see through crying tomorrows,
Wailing alone
What if we never see through that
To the fields of our home?
The more we believe in these frozen grounds
Suddenly hunger disappears
Will we fall as we run with our closing eyes
Is this a lifetime or some years?

Matsson doesn’t have a powerful voice, but it is a very evocative one. It sounds like a cross between the Artic Monkeys’ Alex Turner and a young Paul Simon. Actually, the song “Little Nowhere Towns”, accompanied only by piano, could have been an early take on Simon’s “My Little Town”.

Elsewhere there are echoes of acoustic guitar-jangling exuberance as found in the Waterboys, and the single “Sagres” brings Ryan Adams to mind. It’s all pleasant enough stuff, competently done, and there’s an honest vulnerability to it, but not really enough intensity to stand out among the indie folk scene. I could really go for a blast of the Hives right now to get my mojo flowing again. And some meatballs would be nice, too.

Release Date: May 12, 2015

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