Once upon a time The Tallest Man On Earth was but a peculiar stage-name held in reverence in only the most obscure pockets of the Internet. Yet, thanks to successively well-received releases, the secret is now well out of the box. So, what does Kristian Mattson have in reserve now that the weight of expectation is upon him?
Well, for the most part, There's No Leaving Now sees the passing of last year's deliciously downbeat blues. Gone too in the main are the overt resemblances to other singer-songwriters - Mattson and his vocal has never been more his own and the accompanying sepia-crackled production couldn't be more appropriate for his tales.
This is an album with poise. Some of its rich running order finds success with a more expansive sound than previously. Mattson's swift fingers wholly embrace plugged-in plucking for the first time, arranging these blissful structures with his more traditional acoustic strumming. Happily, room remains however for the starkly straightforward and the sombre one-two of "Bright Lanterns" and the stunning title track, for example, are something to behold. The former introduces a mesmeric wash of pedal steel to the Tallest Man template, the latter strips back to just a piano.
Mattson has always understood that simply playing well isn't enough and, true to form, There's No Leaving Now is peppered with delightful turns. The breaks and returns in the brilliantly Bob Dylan-like "Wind And Walls" are euphoric, their reprise in the simplistic "Criminals" impeccable. The little explosions of guitar after the chorus in "1904" are just lovely, the timeless keys in the summery "To Just Grow Away" perfect.
There's No Leaving Now is another wonderful LP from Mattson. There's no-one with a profile as elevated as his with the gravitas to match a record like this. Moreover Mattson couldn't have been more prophetic with his choice of album title - there's no deviating from an artist as impressive as he. There is no choice but to follow - there's no leaving now.
Advised downloads: "Bright Lanterns" and "Wind And Walls".