The Tallest Man on Earth: The Wild Hunt
Swedish Americana master lodges excellent sophomore LP
Kristian Matsson plays to his strengths on The Wild Hunt, his second album. It’s a smart move. He keeps it simple, finger-picking strings to propel his gristly vocal melodies, which feel simultaneously cavalier and carefully wrought.
Though his acoustic guitar often thwacks like a snare, his songs are uncluttered by percussion, harmonized vocals or the kinds of orchestral ornaments that are so prevalent in current alt-folk. The clean, galloping banjos and guitars spotlight his pristine snarl, which slips down into powerful bass notes and then reaches up and yelps on key, accentuating his ambitious, second-language lyrics: “I wasn’t born, I just walked in one frosty morn / Into the vision of some vacant mind,” he sings on “Burden of Tomorrow.” If Sondre Lerche were a bluegrass-loving goblin, he might sound a little like this. Among the dead weights of the modern new-Dylans, Matsson is a real live wire.