Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Tallest Man On Earth - Shallow Grave

The Tallest Man On Earth
Shallow Grave
(03.2008, Gravitation)
File under = Ok, yeah, he kinda sounds like Bob Dylan

Finally, an album I can succinctly label as folk. No additional qualifiers or hodge-podge genre mach-ups. Shallow Grave is as straightforward a guitar/voice centric album as is possible. And, as such, The Tallest Man On Earth, AKA Kristian Matsson, has made a powerful testament to the simple, evocative, infinite strength of the song. No audio trickery here. No convoluted concepts to grapple with (or ignore), just ten perfectly composed songs with an acoustic guitar. Now I know that there are some of you out there, sitting at your computer desk with your hands raised, stuttering, “um, excuse me, Mr. Thistle…sir, there are plenty of people, innumerous multitudes even that play and record good or even great songs with just their voice and an acoustic guitar.” After which I rudely and digressively reply, “Like Jack Johnson?” Don’t be offended, I’m just joking. Of course you would be right, and we could probably together name dozens of worthwhile albums with that same criteria released just this year. I guess my point is, that while we may be able to create such a list (casually thinking about it just now, I’m not so sure we could), how many of these artists are really inspiring, dynamic, ‘possibly in my top ten list of 2008’ caliber artists? Personally, I can’t think of anyone in recent memory that fits into this category of songwriting. Well, let me just get to the obvious, The Tallest Man On Earth (not officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records) has changed that. Shallow Grave is simply enchanting paring a weathered vocals and tangled lyrics with a flurry of adeptly played guitar (and banjo) used to spin pure gold. Somehow it isn’t surprising that Matsson hails from Sweden. The true mark of genius in these songs is their timelessness. I can’t think of any time in history when this album wouldn’t be hailed as a simple masterpiece.

-Mr. Thistle

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