Song of the Day: The Tallest Man on Earth – Rivers

photo by Shervin Lainez

photo by Shervin Lainez

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s song, featured on The Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “Rivers” by The Tallest Man on Earth, his latest single on Gravitation Records.

The Tallest Man on Earth – Rivers (MP3)

With all of her history of talented musicians, the soundscape of Sweden is a tough beauty to beat. One of her modern greats is Kristian Matsson, or as we all know him, The Tallest Man on Earth. Last we heard from the 33-year-old soulfully Dylan-crooning songwriter was his 2015 Dark Bird is Home, which is also when he last stopped by our studios this time last year. It only takes listening to one album, make that a few songs, to quickly realize the romanticized and personified pathos that Matsson has for nature and natural tones in his music. It’s no surprise that his latest single is called “Rivers”, one, because he lives by a river, and two, “river” might be one of the most commonly used images in his artfully abstract and bucolic lyrics (e.g. the back-to-back tracks “There No Leaving Now” and “Wind and Walls” from There’s No Leaving Now.)

It’s refreshing to hear a new single like ‘Rivers” from The Tallest Man on Earth, which blends his minimalist guitar and vocal roots with his evolved multilayered sound. “Rivers” quickly commences with his signature picking and delicate warbling which then gradually escorts in subtle accents of piano, dreamy cinematic drones, and harmonized horn riffs all the way throughout the event. Matsson possesses a soft, but intrepid power of sentiment that seems very hard to genuinely harness and even harder to effectively evoke.

Before Matsson developed his more newfound and profound relationship with his large space-filling ballads, he was mesmerizing listeners with his more twangy folknik pickathons like “Where Do My Bluebird Fly” and “Love is All” that magnify his one-of-a-kind acoustic finger-style playing, yearningly scratchy vocals, and intimately personalized songwriting. Regardless of form, his songs still convey his idyllic, yet troubled longing and still feel like they’re being sung into to the serenaded listeners’ ear.

The Tallest Man on Earth will be embarking on a select world tour, some shows in Europe, a couple in California, one in Singapore, and a handful in Australia to finish out his year. You can check out his tour dates and watch for more new music via his website and Facebook page plus catch the beautifully shot and modern dance-filled official video for “Darkness of the Dream” from his 2015 album, Dark Bird is Home:

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One Comment

  1. Thomas
    Posted September 5, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Mama mia! Tallest Man is amazing and I love that the Swede is getting some recognition outside Sweden (and Australia, where his fame actually started). Truly great and his album with “Gardener” (was that his debut?) have been played over and over on my phone.

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