Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Tallest Man On Earth - Shallow Grave

This is part two of my Tallest Man On Earth coverage, where I review his debut, Shallow Grave. Doing these out of order is a stupid idea now that I look back on it, but whatever.

The Tallest Man On Earth, also known as Kristian Matsson, is a talented Swedish solo musician playing American folk music. Shallow Grave is his interpretation of what Bob Dylan would sound like in the 21st-century and in my opinion easily surpasses the majority of Dylan's work. As I mentioned before, Matsson is a solo artist, in that his music is literally just his larynx and an acoustic guitar. Perfect folk recipe right there.

A lot of the songs on Shallow Grave have a very mellow feel to them. There are times where Matsson plays very lightly (and even uses ghost notes) like on the title track. "Where Do My Blue Birds Fly" is the epitome of that mellow sound, with an extremely soulful harmony. The chord progressions on the album are well-crafted and some of the more original in folk music today. The way "Honey Won't You Let Me In" ends on the dominant is great. Sorry for theory nerding-out here, but well-written music is better than all the mechanical sweep-picking and arpeggios in the world.

"The Gardener" is perhaps my favorite song on the album along with "Where Do My Blue Birds Fly." A very upbeat, happy sounding track to offset the mellowed-out track that comes before it, "The Gardener" is Matsson at his catchiest and most accessible. The mixing on the song is great and strikes a fine balance between his vocals and the guitar. In fact the mixing on the entire album is perfect for this kind of music, and really lends itself to his voice well. Some of the twangier songs get more on my nerve, like "Pistol Dreams" and the opener "I Won't Be Found" is honestly one of the weaker tracks on the album, but all in all Shallow Grave is the superior release by The Tallest Man On Earth.

8.75 out of 10

1. I Won't Be Found
2. Pistol Dreams"
3. Honey Won't You Let Me In
4. Shallow Grave
5. Where Do My Bluebird Fly
6. The Gardener
7. The Blizzard's Never Seen the Desert Sands
8. The Sparrow and the Medicine
9. Into the Stream
10. This Wind

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