Pesky comparisons to Bob Dylan have dogged Kristian Matsson throughout his short career as the Tallest Man on Earth. In 2006, his self-titled EP introduced a singer with that familiar croak, a songwriter with a folk-revival revival sensibility, and a guitar player with an impressively agile fingerpicking style. The next year, his full-length debut, Shallow Grave, expanded nicely on those ideas, buffing away some of the rougher edges but emphasizing fully realized and beautifully evocative songs. The Wild Hunt, the second Tallest Man on Earth album and first for Dead Oceans, makes a few specific nods to Dylan at his most earnest and bare-- including a reference to "boots of Spanish leather" on "King of Spain". Ultimately, though, Matsson interprets Dylan, just as Dylan himself interpreted Guthrie. Mor
e to the point, Matsson translates him into the Scandinavian countryside, where he sings about changing seasons and quiet, lonely places far from cities. His lyrics are rough and often ragged, more concerned with evoking aching emotions than with making explicit sense. But that coded aspect only makes him sound more urgent, as if he's trying to convince you of something he couldn't possibly put into words.
Fingerpickin’ like a bat out of hell and with a voice like Bob Dylan’s 49th night terror, Sweden’s Kristian Matsson, a.k.a. The Tallest Man On Earth, came out of nowhere with 2008’s stunningly tense Shallow Grave. Well, technically, I guess he came out of Sweden. Anyway, that record was Dylan on Benzedrine; Matsson’s fierce, blood-curdling yelps and fiery guitarisms turned a frightfully familiar formula into something new and exciting. Lyrically, dude made even less sense than Bobby D., beating around every kind of bush with strangely-brewed metaphors and brain-frying Swenglish out the wazoo. Was it a case of skewed translation, or was Matsson some mad, brilliant poet? Both seemed logical; both were probably true.
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