I’m going to add another “Must Listen” and maybe flesh out the category a little more. I may add old songs or others to the category, depending on where I decide to take it.
The Tallest Man on Earth is the moniker of Kristian Matsson and is full of contradictions. He’s from Sweden but he seems to capture an American folk sound more perfectly than any other new artist in the past decade. His first record, Shallow Grave was one of the highlights of 2008 with a simple, straightforward sound full of a raw power. Simply put, the guy has an incredible voice. His first album was full of a bunch of great songs, and he’s continued the streak with his new record, The Wild Hunt. He’s kept virtually the same exact sound–just him and his guitar (save one excellent exception).
I had a hard time picking between “Love is All” and “Kids on the Run.” In the latter, Matsson uses a piano, something that I’d only heard him do once before, on his Daytrotter Session, so the song naturally stands out. It’s an excellent song, but “Love is All” is incredible if only because of the sheer emotion Matsson throws into his voice. The second time he belts “Here come the tears/and like always, I let them go” it seems like he’s going to break down right there, but he curiously follows it up with what could almost be called a hook. The “woh oh oh oh” he uses is an excellent example of his melodic awareness, balancing itself out against the power of the phrase before it with a lightness. It’s almost hard to believe he did it in the same take.