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Album: The Tallest Man On Earth, The Wild Hunt (Dead Oceans)

Andy Gill
Friday 09 April 2010 00:00 BST

Swedish folkie Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man On Earth, has managed to effect an eerily persuasive impression of the young Bob Dylan on this second album.

It's not just his rich command of folk-guitar technique, nor the high, piercing snarl of a voice that so vividly brings to mind the teenage tyro twang of Dylan's debut; but also the way that good and evil, dark and light, love and hate, and life and death are braided and entwined within his songs. The thrilling danger of temptation and desire, for instance, has rarely been as poetically evoked as in Matsson's claim, in "You're Going Back", that "I could roll you to hell, I could swim from your heavens". In some cases, his imagery seems to come from the same wellspring of demonic intimation that fed original country bluesmen like Charley Patton and Robert Johnson, not least when the deft and delicate fingerpicking of "Love Is All" cloaks sentiments like "I walk upon the river like it's easier than land/Evil's in my pocket, and your will is in my hand". But somehow, despite the portents and misgivings which cloud his muse, there's something strangely comforting about Matsson's songs that draws the listener in: it's as if we're being lured close enough to feel the glow of hellfire, without suffering its full sear.

Download this The Wild Hunt; Burden Of Tomorrow; Love Is All

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