The Tallest Man on Earth: The Wild Hunt Review
The eternal question that haunts musicians is how you follow up the grandiose debut album. With Shallow Grave, Sweden’s The Tallest Man on Earth (i.e Kristian Matsson) proved to be one of the most unique and talented artists making folk music today. Luckily for fans of his, his sophomore album, the excellent The Wild Hunt, proves to be equally adept at creating his enrapturing folk music and only serves to enhance his reputation.
Like his debut, The Wild Hunt finds Matsson using little more than his amazing voice and deft guitar playing to wow the listener with his lively and engaging songs. Starting right off with the title track, which finds Matsson singing “I plan to be forgotten when I’m gone,” the album is an equal mix of melancholy and optimism, sung in Matsson’s unmistakable voice. There isn’t much changed from before, but I am not sure what I would have had him do differently from his debut. In going through the album and looking for songs to highlight, I literally could write something positive about almost every track on the record. The dizzying finger picking of “Troubles Will Be Gone,” the emotional wallop of “Love is All” and album closer “Kids on the Run,” which finds Matsson leaving his guitar for piano. Like his first record, the music walks the line between being easy to digest folk/pop music but always adds a slight twist which really sets him apart in a genre that can easily become dull and predictable.
There is a good reason why many sophomore albums don’t get the attention or buzz as their predecessors. The newness is gone, and many of the fans who followed the initial wave will at best move on and at worst become critics and revisionist who liked the band “before they were big.” For many bands, debut albums are years in the making, generally without the intense pressure that comes with following up a successful record. Someone like Kristian Matsson is obviously such a unique talent that I am not surprised that The Wild Hunt doesn’t let down one bit from his first record and in fact only serves to add to his already strong reputation as one of the very best folk artists performing right now.