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Kristian Matsson is one of the best working folk artists. We explore his dynamic catalogue.
the song references a devastating earthquake that rocked Sweden and Norway in the titular year, but you needn’t have any knowledge of natural disasters to make sense of this pleasant folk-rock tune.
In all honesty, there isn’t much dispute among fans about which of the Tallest Man On Earth’s albums are best: 2008’s
The Wild Hunt
(2010) are almost always going to come out on top. The title track from the former contains all the elements that make this pair of albums so interesting and listenable: a relentless banjo lick, existential ramblings and Matsson’s inimitable scratchy-throated cry. The narrator here is down-on-his-luck, and Matsson finds the most lyrically beautiful ways to convey this unrest: “I found the darkness in my neighbor / I found the fire in the frost / I found the season once claimed healthy / Oh, I need the guidance of the lost.”
5. “Troubles Will Be Gone”
The human condition is one of constant searching and exhaustion. We have no assurance that things will be “OK,” as friends and family so often try to convince us. But, at the same time, their dedication to helping us believe everything will turn out alright is in itself proof that no matter what happens, life goes on, because we have loved ones around to see us through it. Matsson infuses a near-perfect banjo melody with this promise on “Troubles Will Be Gone”: “Well the day is never done / But there’s a light on where you’re sleeping / So I hope somewhere that troubles will be gone.”
4. “I Won’t Be Found”
This is, technically speaking, a lovely display of Matsson’s talents. The cascade of banjo is enough to convince anyone to be on his side. But the lyrics, too, help you root for Matsson, as he projects plans for the future before realizing that, if he’s not focusing on the present, he might as well be asleep.
“Well if I ever get that slumber / I’ll be that mole deep in the ground,” he sings. “And I won’t be found.”
3. “Burden of Tomorrow”
Who among us hasn’t fretted over what tomorrow will bring? Here, Matsson promises a partner he’ll be one less thing to worry about, while also acknowledging that while we can think about the future all we want, we truly have no clue what it will bring. We just have to meet it when it comes: “Oh but hell I’m just a blind man on the plains,” he sings over pristine guitar. “I drink my water when it rains / And live by chance among the lightning strikes.”
2. “Love Is All”
“Love Is All” is The Tallest Man On Earth’s “hit”—and for good reason. It’s the perfect entry point into his catalogue and a damn good folk song in its own right. He recounts the dreadful end of a relationship, and, from the point of the listener, it sounds like he’s brusied beyond repair (“Love is all, from what I’ve heard, but my heart’s learned to kill”). But instead of dwelling on the lost “future” of this couplehood, he releases his regret: “Here come the tears / But like always, I let them go / Just let them go.”
1. “The Gardener”
The Tallest Man on Earth’s “The Gardener” is a metaphorical story of hiding one’s ugliness to better be the apple of a lover’s eye. The verses are patterned a certain way, each a distinct scene recounting a figurative body buried, with the sort of subtle variations that keep you grasping always for the next lyric, imagining the garden you have made.
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