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4.8 out of 5 stars16
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 9 April 2010
All too often the folk genre is let down by one man and his guitar. He may have stories to tell and he may do so well, but without a voice these artists soon flounder in a sea of indifference. Sweden's Kristian Matsson is luckily in possession of a fine pair of familiar lungs. His cadent, nasal rasp is without doubt indebted to, but not owned by, one Bob Dylan and alongside his own minimal, yet irrepressibly optimistic accompaniment, Matsson is unquestionably the star of the show.

He deftly filters a little country into both his toe-tapping folk and vocal delivery, creating a very welcome ride down Highway 61, The Cave Singers to the left, The Strange Boys to the right (no jokers in sight). And he's equally happy in more traditional folk, the bobbing chord progressions and melody of "Love Is All" are as old as the hills and close to the pastoral flutters Nick Drake perfected.

The surging strumming of "You're Going Back" and the infectious beauty of "Burden of Tomorrow" are prime examples of warm, interesting, heartfelt folk. The summery, emotive finger-plucking of "Troubles Will Be Gone" pairs Matsson's crackling voice perfectly.

The impeccable ode "King Of Spain", which out of context could be viewed as too cavalier and deeply mired in folkloric wandering, finds a very happy home within The Wild Hunt environment. Smile-inducingly theatrical, and imbued with a deep determination essential to the genre it concedes only to "A Lion's Heart". Achingly pretty and full of soaring emotion backed with impeccable, intricate fingerwork, it's as honest as the magnificent work Danny & The Champions of The World has recently produced. Both rightly demand an appreciation of the gentle lyricism and high-calibre musicianship on offer.

In 2008, Matsson's debut deservedly met with much acclaim. Its power was its weakness, simple done well. The Wild Hunt continues this legacy, full of optimistic, unforgettable songs. Now, about that stage name ...
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What the hell is going on in Scandinavia? Over the past few years our great friends in Northern Europe have gone through a radical renaissance in music and are currently churning out artists like Wales produces outside half's. They are not holding back on the quality and in turn are producing some of the best and diverse sounds on the planet. Also equally importantly in many cases they are not only reinventing but reinvigorating old sounds. To name check key artists we have The Knife, the Shout out Loud's, Jaga Jazzist, Husky Rescue, Erik Hassle and the truly wonderful First Aid Kit. Add to this the fact that the best song of 2010 thus far is called Norway (by Beach house) and a Nordic inter planetary domination threatens.

Now to that ever expanding list we must add the Sweden's Kristian Matsson namely "The Tallest Man on Earth", possibly one of the greatest of the new school. Following rave reviews supporting Bon Iver on his US tour in 2008 Matsson was snapped up by Dead Oceans Records and produced his first album in 2008 "Shallow Grave" and "The Tallest Man on Earth EP* (Check out Walk the line").

My title to this review is a poor attempt at wit and we shouldn't overplay the Dylan comparisons. Yes Matsson singing style is abrasive, raw and acidic but is is well beyond the usual Dylan imitator and the underpinning talent is immense. Check out one of the albums highlights "the King of Spain", which is tempestuous and brilliantly written. Matsson sings it like the proverbial dervish spitting out words and playing the guitar in a fashion that would give his manicurist a nightmare. Truly the lyrics are beyond superb and he spits them out with a vengeance that has not been heard since "Positively 4th Street", as he states -

"And all the senoritas sighing
Will be the fountain of my life
But while we're floating in siesta
You search for bottles and for knives"

"The brilliant piano ballad "Kids on the run" owes a debt to Springsteen but shows in addition that Matsson is a fierce wordsmith and a singer songwriter of the first order. "Troubles will be gone" is a wonderfully laid back and subdued performance made to be played over and over, as is "Love is all" the most Dylanlike song on the album that could have been on "The Freewheelin" album. The lovely title track is sparse and spare but once you soak in the lyrics you will be singing it in your head for days. My personal favourite is "Burden of Tomorrow", just download it, ditto "Your going back".

Again I wonder and worry about the propensity of the British public to take to there hearts a veritable copyist like the wretched Nutini when talent of this magnitude stalks the music scene. Anyway enough from me and let us end with a wonderful quote from Travis Parno that "somehow a whimsical man from Sweden has walked silently among nature's secrets and penned her subtle fancies in a suitably concise album of verdant gems". With a general election approaching let me use parliamentary parlance and blurt out a loud "here, here".
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on 31 December 2010
I went to see the tallest man in St Phillips in Salford with my cousin who was very keen, but I had never heard of him and I felt it would be rude not to go! I was not expecting much and I was pleasantly surprised. I really enjoyed the music (obviously some songs more than others) and as a keen guitar player myself I felt that the music was worth playing regularly. I now have this CD on my Ipod and I listen to it a lot more than other artists in the similar genre. I would highly recommend this CD for any guitar players who would like to learn something relatively challenging.
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on 11 September 2011
This is one of the best albums I've bought this year. I don't know how he's passed me by until now. I can put the album on and listen to it end-to-end, pure joy. I've been playing the album almost non-stop for a month. My favourite song is a toss up between "Burden of Tomorrow" and "King of Spain". If you are a fan of Americana, give this try, I'm glad I did.
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on 15 February 2011 may be the closest we can come to paying the country of Sweden back for providing us with the sublime TMOE.

I first saw this gent under the stars at End Of The Road festival 2009, knowing nothing of him prior to then. I have been in full blown obsession mode since that day. Now, these obsessions and incessant airplay are not infrequent, but in my case normally blow themselves out after a few months. Still going strong today........

Largely due to this album, the subsequent release of 2 equally brilliant EP's, and a few more pilgrimages from northern Scotland to gigs, his stock rises.

"A Thousand Ways", "Love Is All", "Buurden of Tomorrow" are stand outs from easily the album of last year. Can he compete with the excitement of a new Low Anthem record in 2011? To be seen. (if this review was out of 10, I might (but might not...) have dropped to 9.5 due to the track "Kids On The Run", which is the only TMOE track from 2 albums and 2 EP's that EVER gets skipped on my iPod.

I'm off to Sweden to apologise for James Blunt, Snow Patrol etc
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on 31 October 2010
Urm... first impression was that of boredom and sameness. However, it gradually grew on me to the point that it has been banned from the living room by my housemates. Really nice, sombre and moving music.
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on 14 June 2015
I think this guy is one of the most talented musicians in Europe at present. Has an unusual but perfect voice for his songs, good melody, lyrics and feel. Like it a lot
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on 25 January 2016
Not my 'cup of tea'. Took a chance as I listened to one track online. Don't be put off listen to some clips on line to make sure it's your thing.
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on 19 January 2013
The Tallest Man On Earth, The Wild Hunt is a beautiful album filled is great songs! Best listened to as an album instead of on shuffle!
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on 29 January 2015
Brilliant Record. Love it.
The tallest man on earth as pretty steady quality through its albums.
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