The Tallest Man on Earth – Dark Bird Is Home
The Tallest Man on Earth, aka singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson, has grown in stature in the five years since breakthrough album The Wild Hunt – and a stint as Bon Iver’s tour support – introduced the charismatic 32-year-old to audiences far beyond the borders of his native Sweden. Matsson’s new offering, Dark Bird Is Home, is released with a palpable weight of expectation behind it.
Fitting for a thoroughbred troubadour, travel and transition are central themes of the album, described by the record company as having been created “in various countries, studios, and barns”. Whether via the anthemic Springsteen-esque road movie vignette Seventeen, the dream of flying south for winter contained in the delicate Singers, or numerous allusions to the ultimate journey to the ever-after in Dark Bird is Home or Sagres, Matsson’s enviably lyrical soul is one in constant motion.
The extent of the musical accompaniment supporting the lyrics is something of a revelation from an artist who has cut a solitary figure on previous releases: until now, Matsson’s lo-fi studio style has commonly seen both his guitar and vocal occupy a single recording track. Though indicative of progressive maturation, the effects of these new found embellishments are mixed. Lead single Sagres sees swelling orchestral strings swaddle the sweetly ornate guitar, elevating the emotional impact of an already beautiful song. However, similarly precise guitar work, along with Matsson’s fragile voice, is all but drowned out by intrusive piano and percussion on Darkness of the Dream. The title track rounds the album off by striking what is perhaps the perfect balance. It leaves raw and untouched the fundamental blend of subtle rhythmic strumming and melodic finger-picking, until a haunting outro (“No this is not the end and no final tears”) is hammered into place with a crescendo of drums.
In spite of the range of sonic experimentation and the odd misfire that results, this is an album that hangs together well thanks to a strong sense of artistic vision and the primal poetic talent that drives it.
Dark Bird Is Home was released on 12th May 2015, for further information or to order the album visit here.
Watch the official album trailer for Dark Bird Is Home here: