Album Review: The Tallest Man on Earth's 'There's No Leaving Now'

Photo by Julia Mard

Kristian Matsson isn’t really the tallest man on earth, but the songs he writes as the Tallest Man on Earth tower over the indie-folk landscape he’s helped tend over the past half-dozen years. His latest, “There’s No Leaving Now” (Dead Oceans), is a sweetly riveting collection of songs that mix downhearted lyrical themes with deceptively intricate musical arrangements that often verge on joyous. (Listen via NPR.)

Matsson sings in a rumpled voice that displays shades of early Dylan, and his swift, fingerpicked guitar anchors songs that include delicate woodwinds, subtle rhythm,  and the occasional gulping sigh of a pedal steel guitar. He’s mournfully expressive over a jaunty shuffle on “1904,” catalogs best intentions that veered off course on “Revelation Blues” over gleaming sparks of electric guitar, and picks out a fast, spare electric guitar figure as he sifts through rueful memories on “Criminals.”

The contrast between the yearning tone of his lyrics and the major-key ebullience of the music is dizzying, as if Matsson is celebrating all the emotions that come spilling through a life well-lived. That it sounds so effortless is what makes him a giant indeed.

— Eric R. Danton

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