Over the last decade or so, while the music industry has been fundamentally changing, one things has been consistent: the influx of singer-songwriters. It’s difficult in today’s music scene to stand out as a singer-songwriter and do something that’s truly unique. Fortunately for us, it’s not impossible. Kristian Matsson, also known as The Tallest Man On Earth, burst onto the music scene thanks to an opening gig with Bon Iver as the opener on the “For Emma, Forever Ago” tour. Since then, he has blossomed into a musical force, one that’s making music that is undoubtedly unique and immediately familiar. With “There’s No Leaving Now”, he has pushed his way back to the forefront of our collective musical minds with yet another outstanding album that shows his songcraft continues to improve.
“There’s No Leaving Now” comes on the heels of “The Wild Hunt”, Matsson’s wildly successful second album. “There’s No Leaving Now” is different, an evolution to a more defined and comfortable sound, but still, undeniably, The Tallest Man on Earth. It’s Bob Dylan-esque in nature with an incredible guitar, a lo-fi sound, a unique vocalist and incredibly song-writing. The first track, “1904” continues with Matsson’s tradition of story-telling through song. The song is an allusion to something shaking the earth in 1904, but never fully explained. It’s a vague song that hits of grander things.
“Criminals” shows you another aspect of Matsson’s sound, his ability to fingerpick both the melody and the harmony simultaneously, which is an incredible feat. With lyrics like “There are illusions and then just not even wanting,/ To walk around a shiny peak of snow./ What a picture that is to be saved for us,/ How it’s standing like it’s just for us to know?”, he forces you to think about what his songs mean and that’s a rare feat for music today.
What’s interesting is how difficult it is to describe the sound of someone like Matsson. It sounds you’re listening to an old Bob Dylan recording on an old vinyl in your friend’s basement. It has an intentionally raw, live, unrefined quality and that’s what makes it so incredible. ”I wanted to build something that didn’t sound like a rock band, but wasn’t super minimalistic,” he tells Rolling Stone of the ‘There’s No Leaving Now’ recording process. “I wanted a sound that had that brittle [quality], that feeling that it might just fall apart.” That’s exactly what it sounds like.
“Revelation Blues” is an excellent example. It sounds like it was recorded with the mic a little bit too far away. Throw in lyrics like “I always want to bring you something, but sometimes it’s just roses dying too young,” and you have a song that would make any 60s troubadour proud. Perhaps the album’s most interesting song, much like the last album, is the minimalist, piano-led title track. “There’s No Leaving Now” is the kind of sadly paced and sounding song that puts you in a reflective mood and forces you to think about things that you thought you’d forgotten.
With your quiet, damned devotion, To be lost like your child again.
Claim forever is a close and honest friend, To your ways.
Will there be time to harvest rivers, That for so long refused to grow?
All the little things you need to build a home, For your love.
Your fear of the leading light, If they are with you and your heart won’t fail.
To see through a fearless eye, And know that danger finally goes away.
Still you’re trying, But there’s no leaving now.
“There’s No Leaving Now” is another phenomenal album by a singer-songwriter who never sounds worn out or overplayed. It’s the perfect album to start the summer and is the perfect group of songs for car rides and picnics alike. Enjoy this album and endure the painful length of time until the next one from The Tallest Man on Earth.