The Tallest Man On Earth – Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird EP
Release Date: September 7, 2010
Record Label: Dead Oceans Records
Good things come to those who wait, but sometimes, it's the opposite that's true. Just five months after introducing his sophomore full length Wild Hunt earlier this year, Kristian Matsson, a.k.a. The Tallest Man On Earth, has already returned with Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird EP, a cute but brief 5 song offering. He sounds much more subdued on this release, even exhausted at times (you won’t find any playful quips about wanting to be the “King of Spain” here), but he does it with the artistry and grace we’ve come to expect from him all the same. We couldn’t have expected better from music that couldn’t have come sooner.
Matsson spins his usual web of elaborate imagery here; in “Thrown Right At Me,” he draws up a precious winter scene when he sings “And horses trot faster ‘til sparrows fall down, but you just fall, laughin’ to the snow on the ground.” And he’ll watch a few eyes moisten when he gets sentimental in “Tangle In This Trampled Wheat” over busy notes harped from his guitar: “I only comfort in the brittleness of days when I can hold what I just found. In the young tie-dyes of the laughing child, and the dirtiest sweater he owns.” But he also gets more transparent and direct than we’re used to from him at times, like when he asks “Oh my Lord, why am I not strong?” midway through the EP. It’s a spectacular moment when several of his characters turn to the divine for answers because the theme fits his gentle music so well.
Of interest is the soulful ballad “The Dreamer,” where Matsson trades his signature acoustic plucks for solid chords from an electric guitar. The track is a resounding success musically, and its implication should be a reason to celebrate for Tallest Man fans: Matsson’s songwriting is maturing and evolving for the better. That goes for his vocal style, too; instead of just assuming the Dylan croak for the whole album, he frequently adds expression here to further animate his lyrics (for example, he sounds inebriated when he sings “how you’re the light over me” in “The Dreamer”).
“Oh sometimes the blues is just a passing bird” goes the EP’s central line, but Mattson is quick to add, “why can’t that always be?” There’s nothing that warms the soul like some good old honesty, and Matsson wails it perfectly. With Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird EP, he does more than just add to his collection of tunes – he reaffirms his commitment to expressing the human spirit. And as identifiers with that spirit, we lean forward, eager to hear more.