It’s been two years since Kristian Matsson released his sophomore album, The Wild Hunt, and subsequent EP, Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird, under his moniker, The Tallest Man On Earth. In the interim, fans have been eagerly awaiting new music from the Swedish folk master.
With the release of There’s No Leaving Now, the wait is finally over. And boy, was the wait worth it. Though it didn’t seem possible, Matsson has taken his art of narrative songwriting even further. The 10-track album is his most simple and gentle to date. Where The Wild Hunt featured experimental composition (read: more than just the singer-songwriter and his guitar), the instrumentation in this release is sparse, focusing more on Mattson’s intricate guitar riffs and masterful acoustic strumming.
It may sound like the young musician has digressed between his second and third release on first listen, Leaving does contain a first for Matsson. This project marks his maiden voyage in multi-tracking, adding woodwinds, percussion and additional fingerpicking tracks to his songs. This addition gives his tracks a fuller, complex sound that sends chills down your spine while accompanied by his pleasantly raspy, Dylan-esque voice.
The album opens with one of its strongest songs. “Just Grow Away,” features a rambling piano track twisting through feverish guitar picking and Matsson’s pipes straining passionately as he belts, “Like a rain to help a river / But a river is so hard to please / But I’ve grown to see the diamond / Thrown in just for me.” But Leaving’s shining moment is its single, “1904.” Aside from being a well-structured folk song, it is filled with pop sensibility. Though Matsson sings of mortality, the song is catchy and infectious. The way he delivers such charming, picturesque narratives in his lyrics is a quality (among others) that sets him far apart from fellow singer-songwriters.Though many critics might say that this album is too tame, it is the work of someone more comfortable in his own skin. Now married to fellow Swedish singer-songwriter Amanda Bergman (Idiot Wind), Matsson’s life is more domesticated and relaxed, and this record reflects that new chapter. Yes, it would have been nice to see some of that disjointed, raw, raggedness that encompassed The Wild Hunt in Leaving, but this release shows growth and maturation, and there’s something to be said for that. Mattson has planted his roots, and it will be exciting to watch him continue to grow.