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Review: The Tallest Man On Earth ‘There’s No Leaving Now’

Kristian Matsson, also known as The Tallest Man On Earth, is an artist who was plagued with the burden of comparisons when he started recording music, most notably to some guy called Bob Dylan. It is therefore ironic that now, about to release his third studio album ‘There’s No Leaving Now’, it is more often other musicians that are compared to Matsson. The Tallest Man On Earth may not have exactly reinvented music, but he certainly has demonstrated a special form of escapism through music that many other acts have tried, and, for the most part failed, to capture.

It is to Matsson’s credit then that ‘There’s No Leaving Now’ is still just as pure and natural as his very first EP seemed to be when it was released back in 2006. Like all of The Tallest Man On Earth’s music it is built first and foremost upon deceptively complicated acoustic guitar parts, gentle melodies and his immediately distinguishable voice. Those looking for ‘more of the same’ won’t be disappointed with ‘There’s No Leaving Now’, but there’s also definite signs of development, not the least of which is the album’s title track which is structured around piano rather than guitar, and is probably one of the most beautiful ‘ballads’ (using that term very loosely) that Matsson has recorded to date.

Similarly Revelation Blues shows a bit of a different side of Matsson, featuring bassist Mats Winkvist and drummer Niclas Nordin, marking the first time that Matsson is not the only musician appearing on his own record. Fans of The Tallest Man On Earth may be (rightfully) a little worried about this, but Matsson and co. pull it off so perfectly that Revelation Blues is probably my favourite song on the album. The extra instrumentation is handled subtlety and gracefully, adding depth that, far from detracting from Matsson’s sublime voice, accentuates it.

The record includes a few songs that will be familiar to those who have either seen The Tallest Man On Earth live recently or followed these shows online. Little Brother for example was played during his recent South African tour and was met with a very positive reaction by fans when a video was posted online. True to form the song is captured perfectly in studio form. Similarly the aforementioned title track has been played extensively live before, but even that won’t prepare you for the beauty of the studio track. The production of ‘There’s No Leaving Now’ really is absolutely perfect, and lets Matsson’s musicianship shine through without unnecessary distractions.

This is a beautiful, delicate, gorgeous album, but then you already knew that. A Tallest Man On Earth record is never going to be anything else. More importantly however, ‘There’s No Leaving Now’ develops and expands Matsson’s sound without losing the essence of what made his previous music so special, and without losing that unique form of escapism that no-one else seems to capture quite as effectively. And for me, this is the greatest achievement of The Tallest Man On Earth: his music still feels so special, distinguished, and unique, despite how influential his sound has been for so many newer artists.

There may be a myriad of imitators out there, but, having listened to ‘There’s No Leaving Now’, it is abundantly clear that no-one does it quite like The Tallest Man On Earth.

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