By Patrick Foster
Understand: Anyone singing their own songs while playing acoustic guitar still owes Bob Dylan. Meaning artistic classification is often down to which Zimmy period you're paying your debt to - and where you take it from there. The Tallest Man on Earth (Kristian Matsson from Sweden to his folks; actually about 5-9) springs forth from the white-hot Dylan of '64, drawing from mind-expanding love songs like "Boots of Spanish Leather" and "One Too Many Mornings" and the seismic word explosions of "Another Side of Bob Dylan."
(A second album that improves the formula in every way, after the jump.)
"The Wild Hunt" refines the pattern established on the Tallest Man's 2007 full-length debut - brisk, forcefully strummed accompaniment, pulsating melodies and striking, evocative word-strings sung in a plaintive singsong yelp - and is more mature and accomplished by oodles. Opening with the knockout title track and followed by the even better "Burden of Tomorrow," the imagery crackles from the outset: "Rumor has it I wasn't born / I just walked in one frosty morn," Mattson intones on the latter, while the former details "machines abandoned by ancient races" that he hears "humming down below in hollow earth," a muted banjo providing one of the album's only additions to his careening guitar.
Over 10 rich tracks (35 minutes that feel like 15), metaphors of environment and seasons intertwine. Gentle blues ("The Drying of the Lawns") and folk ("You're Going Back") are handled with aplomb. "King of Spain" flaunts an unshakable melody, while "Kids on the Run," the wild-card closer, is a piano-driven outsider's anthem that neatly settles the Tallest Man on Earth's Dylan account. Heck, "The Wild Hunt" might even have earned him some change.
The Tallest Man on Earth will perform at the Black Cat on April 23.
Recommended tracks: "King of Spain," "Burden of Tomorrow," "Kids on the Run"