As someone who listens to a lot of new music all the time, a guy playing a guitar with no other accompaniment has become one of the most tired concepts my mind could dream up. That said, the debut album by The Tallest Man on Earth is captivating and worth every second of yours that it takes.
Kristian Matsson, a swede who may not actually live up to his name makes music that sort of transcends his genre. Unlike all the music that bills itself as “folk” these days, I believe that this music is based on a folk tradition inherent in all of us who listen to music that comes from the earth we inhabit. If that doesn’t make sense, think of it this way. Folk music is supposed to be relatable, right? The reason Dylan and the throngs of people in Greenwich Village 45 years ago flocked to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk music is because it told tales that everyone understands and that line the fabric of our culture. Ballads, labor songs, social music. We know these things and relate to their concepts. Matsson’s music is relatable not only lyrically, but musically. The songs don’t drag. This isn’t a psych-folk masturbatory piece, it’s short and to the point.
I talked today with my friend Rachel, and basically said that songs should be interesting rather than uninteresting. That I want to be compelled to listen to music, not invited to wish I was somewhere else, maybe drinking a milkshake after the show.
In less obvious things, The Tallest Man on Earth is completely interesting. The guitar work is quick and fleeting, his hands move as fast as light. His songs are stark and simple, the melodies impel you to focus on them only. This is folk music that makes you move in your seat, it adds spring to your step. This is music you want to see live. This does not bore. Matsson challenges you, he questions you – “throw me in the fire now, come on!” he screams, in “Pistol Dreams.” This is music that asks something of you, it’s not music that begs you to sit.
Is Kristian Matsson more punk than we all think? Ask me to hear.