Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird

For anyone who has ever been left wordless while trying to answer the painfully general question, “What type of music do you listen to?”, you may appreciate the challenge I face in trying to describe The Tallest Man on Earth, moniker of Swedish singer/songwriter Kristian Matasson. The artists that hold my attention don't do so because their music correspond to a specific "type" or genre; rather, they captivate me because they're just plain good. Hand me an album that’s solid gold from the first verse to final fade-out, and you have my full listening attention. Matasson is that type of musician – an artist in every sense of the word: captivating, universally relatable, and an innovator in a listening community that craves both newness and familiarity. I would recommend his LPs The Wild Hunt and Shallow Graves, and for those of us who have chewed through those, his most recent EP, Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird.

Due to the raw quality of his vocals and the deftness of his trademark acoustic picking, Tallest Man’s music is often likened to that of Bob Dylan, at times being called a “revival artist”. What makes his work successful in the face of this constant comparison would hold true for any musician: he is a master of development, growth, and reinvention. Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird preserves the most endearing qualities of TMOE’s work, while exploring new (and intriguing) stylistic choices.

“Tangle In This Trampled Wheat” opens the album with TMOE’s quintessential acoustic picking style, while the vocals build up to the raw cracks of the chorus, and the poignant cry: “I’m not leaving alone”. “Like The Wheel” takes a softer, subtler turn, developing into a lullaby-like musing: “Please let the kindness of forgetting set me free”. “The Dreamer” demonstrates a mix-up: opting for electric instead of traditional acoustic, the relaxed chords sit back on their heels, instead of pouring out in a rushed stream like his individually plucked notes.

Ultimately, these small choices show us a glimpse of the possibility of even better developments to come. For longtime fans, this EP will tide us over until we see or hear from Kristian next. For those who have never listened to his work before, these songs are a relaxed, accessible introduction to his work. Try them on for size. You may find that musical listening void you never knew you had, has suddenly been filled.

Details about EP release: http://deadoceans.com/blog/2010/09/surprise-new-ep-from-the-tallest-man-on-earth-available-for-download-today-on-itunes/

A selection of his earlier works, Secret Garden Series: http://vimeo.com/5099681

-Shana Rusonis, Class of 2012, Guest Contributor

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