Sweden - Full Moon 230 - 06/02/15
The Tallest Man On Earth
Dark Bird is Home
For a long time I thought of The Whitest Boy Alive (the project of Erlend Øye of Kings of Convenience) when seeing/hearing the name The Tallest
Man on Earth (TTMoE), but where the former is rooted more in the electronic world, TTMoE holds on to the folky, singer-songwriter path. Somehow, TTMoE makes me think of Phosphorescent
(or the voice of Matthew Houck), even slightly the naivety of Jonathan Richman's songs/music comes to mind. I also sense some relation towards Bon Iver/Justin
Vernon, but Kristian Matsson (a.k.a. TTMoE) sounds 'fresher', with slightly more uplifting and bouncy songs. Mattson roams deep into melancholia when singing of all the little things in life.
Tales from everyday life - what life gives/brings/turns into: about emptiness, loneliness, and finding yourself. About growing up, leading a family life, and telling small stories from traveling
the world or being on the road. Here are tales of longing, fear, pain, sorrow, loss, tears, love, smiles, and joy - with a certain happiness and optimism in them. About people (girls, women,
friends and lovers or lost lovers), ghosts, dreams, and hope. Stories of staying, feeling, growing and moving on. Of light and darkness, of beaches, mountains, borders and valleys. Such
as "Fields of Our Home", "Little Nowhere Towns", "Slow Dance", "Sagres" (hey, is that Sagres, Portugal? I remember this little, sleepy town somehow avoiding/regretting becoming a straight
tourist town from my visit in the mid-80s, and my revisit in 2005...), and "Darkness Of The Dream". '...We were travellers, so blind / Went to where
the world did end...' ("Sagres"); 'If I wasn't only seventeen / Now stuck on the highway / Because I feel' ("Seventeen");
'Guess we're only in beginnings of a wildness to return / I rise into it and I feel a little lighter / Guess we're always in the phases of the things
we'd never learn...' ("Singers"); 'In this sunlight I just can't believe your face / We're some laundry line believers / We're just kids in
many ways, oh / And you smell like smoke and honey in my arms' ("Slow Dance"). Dark Bird Is Home for sure is a comfortable listen.
The title song is a brilliant example of Matsson's song-writing skills (like I described it to be like last moonth, a 'happy, sad, free-floating, high
flying' song), but here are many more examples of quality songs. Such as "Darkness Of The Dream", "Slow dance" and "Timothy" to name but a few. Mattson's guitar playing, the arrangements and
the orchestration throughout the album are ace. His songs holds some of the noir romance and tristesse of past and contemporary acts like The Dears, The Smiths and Strand of Oaks (is "Timothy"
'an ode' to Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks?). Other names spring to mind, as well. However, Mattson's 'folk feel' also nods backwards to classic artists like
Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. 'I don't consider my work to be a part of any tradition. This is how I play. This is how I write songs', Mattson
has stated. With Dark Bird is Home, the dark bird has come home from a long journey.
PS! The tallest man on earth ranking has Robert Wadlow (1918-1940, known as the Alton Giant, or the Giant of Illinois) as the tallest ever person in history. The Handsome Family wrote
the song "Giant of Illinois" about Wadlow (for their Through the Trees album, 1998) - a song that was covered by Andrew Bird for his 2014 'tribute to The Handsome Family' album,
Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of.... However, that is some other story. The tallest man on Earth in music is Swedish.
Copyright © 2015 Håvard Oppøyen