[sic] Magazine

The Tallest Man On Earth – Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird EP

Those that dismiss The Tallest Man On Earth ‘s Kristian Matsson as a Bob Dylan copyist do so as their peril. Dylan doesn’t own the nasal rasp, and though in comparison Matsson does sound very familiar, so does he have an incredibly strong musical voice of his own.

Following his bewitching and recently re-released debut LP Shallow Grave, as well as this year’s toe-tapping The Wild Hunt, Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird is way more than just an off-cut or contractual filler. It’s an identifiable collection, albeit a small one, of poignant and beautiful acoustic folk – one that remains warm and irrepressible, but, as the EP’s title suggests, Matsson seems to have a heavy heart as 2010 starts to draw to a close.

The careful warmth of the opener “Little River” is deceptive, despite latterly leading into masterful depth. On top of his skilful guitar work, Mattson’s vocal variety is compelling, ranging from the nasal to the bubblingly up-tempo as required by his cadences. And it’s a timeless, soothing and effortless start, as well as one without a trace of pretension.

Uncharacteristically, Matsson plugs in for the lightly reverbed “The Dreamer”, a track which initially seems made for melancholic moments in teen drama, but whose depths ultimately prove that notion a disservice. Matsson is once again on mesmeric form, deconstructing his chord progressions at its end to usher in a powerful reprise whilst grabbing the track by its neck for a falteringly emotional and heartfelt vocal turn that provides the EP with its name.

Perhaps the most subdued of all is “Like The Wheel”. It’s pretty, acoustic singer-songwriting of very high calibre – make no mistake – but the jaunty country-influenced bobs of The Wild Hunt seem some distance away here. This sparse ethos is taken into “Tangle In This Trampled Wheat”, whose pastoral plucking wafts like a summer breeze over an image of lovers trampling his titular wheat in search of seclusion. Undercutting this bucolic scene, Matsson laces the track with a pained, forceful repeat of “I’m not leaving alone”. With lips now set to quiver, the tumbledown closer “Thrown Right At Me” brings down the house, talking beautifully of love while again threatening loss.

Matsson’s evolution over two LPs and now two EPs has led him from being a welcome curio to a must-hear phenomenon, and each release and tour is strengthening his growing reputation. If his blues are indeed a passing bird, then good luck to him – he can see life’s silver lining. However, rather selfishly, for the sake of the quality of misfortune’s influence on his music, we must hope their paths cross again during his surely lengthy career. Endearingly, Matsson’s tears make him no less tall in our eyes.

Advised downloads: Treat yourself – go for the lot.

~The Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird EP is out now in the US, and is released on Dead Oceans on the 8th November 2010 in the UK.~


The Wild Hunt