Photograph by Chris La Putt

The Wild Hunt emotes like a restless child – a tacit resolution paints Kristian Matsson in a positive light – unruly, expressive, and urgent. Following-up his debut Shallow Grave and several months of touring with Bon Iver, Matsson delights with raspy vocals and an elegant guitar. The Wild Hunt strays from its predecessor with respect to instrumentation as Matsson explores the piano and banjo in conjunction to familiar finger-plucked harmonies on guitar. Matsson’s Dylan-esque vocals provide a striking contrast to the humble guitar and delicate storytelling while divulging aged idealism. The Wild Hunt marks the Tallest Man on Earth’s first release on Dead Oceans as he joins labelmates Phosphorescent and Bowerbirds this April.

The Tallest Man on Earth elicits an unspoken beauty while describing the northern countryside in a vibrant tone from fragile flower petals to mighty rivers. The Wild Hunt is a dynamic record in that it wanders with an unrelenting curiosity, the album pleads for interpretation opting to show rather than tell. Matsson is wistful on ‘A Lion’s Heart’ tugging at the warmth of reunion singing, “Well there’s no real goodbye if you mean it, so I guess I’m forever alone.” The Wild Hunt reads like an introspective memoir – treasuring the past while meandering serenely through the tall grass at present.

The eponymous title track rings with Matsson’s echoing vocals that resemble a Sufjan Stevens-like elegance when combined with a strummed banjo. The Tallest Man on Earth avoids stagnation as The Wild Hunt truly blooms with romanticism on ‘You’re Going Back’ aching with honesty and compassion. The track explodes with hidden wisdom and finds Matsson emoting with a desperate fervour. Comparatively, ‘King of Spain’ celebrates the transformative spirit of affection in a playful manner with the lyrics, “I never knew I was a lover, just ‘cause I steal the things you hide, just ‘cause I focus while we’re dancing, just ‘cause I offered you a ride.” Matsson offers a reason to revel in love, loss, and desperation because what else do we have if not our tales?

The Tallest Man on Earth – You’re Going Back
The Tallest Man on Earth – King of Spain

The Wild Hunt flows with a sense of seasonality taking time to appreciate the details. I have found it difficult to imagine Matsson recording in a studio as the record more fittingly places the musician amidst wildflowers with chirping songbirds perched upon shoulders. The album is far from a Disney story though, it is impassioned, sincere, and downright painful. The Tallest Man on Earth cries with a twangy, unassuming tone, speaking in elusive metaphors while leaving an unpretentious air such as in ‘Thousand Ways’ as he sings, “I have lived for ages I’m a thousand turns of tides, I’m a thousand wakes of springtime, and a thousand infant cries.” There is something magical in The Wild Hunt and the charm of the record lies in being oblivious to such subdued illusions – while you are lost it is wise to take some time to smell the flowers.

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— , May 7, 2010    3 Comments
Comments:

I feared the worst.
Welcome back, peeps

Kadgi, May 9, 2010

Exam time is the worst. Spring time is the best.

— Jan, May 9, 2010

That’s not a Moxy Fruvous cover. What a ripoff.

Kevin Kania, May 9, 2010