Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The Tallest Man on Earth to take over Northampton

By Angela Stasiowski

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When it comes to music, size matters.  The Tallest Man on Earth, a.k.a. Sweden’s Kristian Matsson is one of the biggest names in the modern folk world and for good reason. 

This coming Thursday, Sept. 30, The Tallest Man on Earth will make his first appearance in the Pioneer Valley at Pearl Street Night Club in Northampton. This folk phenomenon is touring in support of his most recent album, “The Wild Hunt”.

Touring the U.S. with Matsson is S. Carey, of Bon Iver fame. Carey has been providing the percussion for Iver’s touring crew, but has recently broken away from the background with his solo debut. 

Drawing from his jazz upbringing as well as folk, post rock and everything in between, Carey has created something entirely new with “All We Grow”, which is on sale now via Jagjaguar Records.   

Having toured with the Tallest Man on Earth for Iver’s 2008 tour, it seems Carey was a natural choice for a tour mate this time around.

Sweden may not be the first country that comes to mind when one thinks about traditional, American folk, but it was there that The Tallest Man on Earth took form with the release of a self-titled EP in 2006. 

Soon after, Matsson created quite a stir with his 2008 debut “Shallow Grave”.  What makes an album stand out at a time when everything is a copy of a copy?

“Shallow Grave” is the perfect combination of folk-fringed vocals and acoustic simplicity.  The sound is pure, American folk with the faintest twinge of foreign influence.

Matsson is a master storyteller and sets his tales to highly melodic music. “The Gardener,” off of “Shallow Graves,” is an example of what happens when brilliant lyrics meet infectious melody. The song tells the tale of a murderous, scorned lover, set to a solo acoustic background. The pairing is perfection. Never have such homicidal thoughts been presented so pleasantly. 

Matsson does not stop with acoustic guitar, however. “The Wild Hunt” features the singer/songwriter trying his hand at banjo and keyboard as well. 

“Kids on the Run” is a poignant romp through the “fields of desire,” all the while fighting the natural progression of time. Matsson’s masterfully simple piano takes shape against his vocals, invoking a longing for lost youth.

The album also includes singles “The King of Spain,” which has become a live staple, as well as “A Lion’s Heart,” which was featured on the HBO series “Hung.”

While he may not break any Guinness records, The Tallest Man on Earth is far from ordinary. His live performances have been shocking fans with his sheer passion since Matsson was a relative unknown on tour with Iver. 

If you’re looking for a new sound with a classic edge, the Tallest Man on Earth will be the concert to see this fall. No vocoder, no big band sound, just folk music at its most basic state.  

Tickets for this Thursday’s 8:30 p.m. show are still available online for $15 and can be purchased at the door for $18.

Angela Stasiowski can be reached at [email protected]

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