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The Tallest Man On Earth

The Tallest Man On Earth EP [Reissue]

[Gravitation; 2011]

By ; June 22, 2011 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

Kristian Matsson, The Tallest Man on Earth to most listeners, is one of the most prolific and iconic folk musicians in recent memory. His two complete albums thus far, Shallow Grave and The Wild Hunt reveal an artist steadily gaining influence and popularity due to incredible song-writing and impeccable playing. His live shows are intimate, and his material harks back to times long since passed: popular comparisons to Dylan do not go without merit, with songs such as “King of Spain” directly alluding to Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather,” and yet Matsson still somehow sounds remarkably modern. Listening to The Tallest Man on Earth can be an emotional experience, as the heart and soul that he puts into every chord and every lyric is crisp and clear, and loses none of its clarity even in a studio setting.

Apart from his two albums, however, Matsson does not have a huge amount of external releases under his belt yet, with the exception of two extended plays which eager fans will have already greedily snatched up. Now that the original The Tallest Man on Earth EP is being reissued, it’s time to go back in time and see if Matsson’s older material is on-par with the newer stuff. And thankfully, after listening to the reissue on repeat, it’s quite clear that even from these humble beginnings Matsson knew exactly what he was doing: whether it’s the sorrowful “Walk the Line,” where Matsson growls to the listener bitter lamentations of, “Please don’t shoot me down,” or the comparatively optimistic, “Steal Tomorrow,” it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine Matsson playing songs such as these in a small pub or venue somewhere; certainly during an intimate situation.

This personal relationship with the audience that The Tallest Man on Earth creates is special, because every mood that he invokes seems genuine and masterful. He’s the sort of artist that seems incapable of making a bad song, therefore, as he channels personal exploits, grievances and emotions into every track. And that’s why “Over the Hills” is beautiful in its execution, and “Into the Stream,” although not quite as well-produced as the later studio version from Shallow Grave, is still equally as cryptic and ruminating in its dark lyrical content.

Listeners who have not yet had the privilege of picking up The Tallest Man on Earth should definitely make an effort to purchase this EP. However, for die-hard fans who already have the original pressing, there is still an incentive to buy the reissue: a track that Matsson wrote around the same session as the original EP but never committed to the disc is now included. “In The Pockets” is a lovely track; a little more upbeat than the relatively sombre tracks before it, but certainly worth the price of admission alone. The ending is especially fantastic, increasing in pace and volume, before fading out softly in a distinctly tender moment. To this particular listener, it’s the best track of the entire EP, making it something that a listener should cherish: it’s not just a tacked-on addition, but a thoughtful inclusion. You would be mad to miss out on this EP if you’ve never heard it before, and for those that have, it’s time to start falling in love with it all over again.


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