The Dylan comparisons have been done to death. Vocally, lyrically and in whatever way you want to slice it. With that said (and the Dylan comparison out of the way), the following must be said: Kristian Matsson (The Tallest Man on Earth) is an Artist. Capital A.
Artist is a word that we use flippantly and glibly, often for lack of a better descriptor for ‘people who just happen to make music.’ But in this case, the case of the folk Jonas Jerebko, the word Artist is cathartically apt. Why? For the sake of brevity, let’s just say Matsson doesn’t do what we want him to. He’s not complacent.
There’s No Leaving Now still reflects Matsson’s Wordsworthian love of nature — “But sometimes it’s just roses dying too young” is one of many cutting metaphors for lost love on this album—and the piece of wood with the six strings remains his primary accompaniment, but the tune has changed here. There is a greater somberness to these songs, more restraint than one found on 2010’s exuberant The Wild Hunt. Not only that, but Matsson has also begun to experiment with multi-tracking, adding some drums and woodwinds to his latest ten-track work.
Hell, Mattson even opts to abandon his signature picking at one point. On the title track, Matsson forsakes his guitar in order to deliver a hauntingly sparse piano ballad. Here his voice is at its most naked, exposed for the listener to feel every crackle of the earnestness it harbors.
While it would be great to have six or seven more albums like The Wild Hunt — an album that evokes the bittersweet nostalgia of our unrealized dreams, and the promise of those dreams we still cling to (get lost in “The King of Spain”), to the tune of poignantly pleasant strumming — that’s not where this Artist is comfortable to rest. Though Matsson sounds most at home using his nimble fingers and vivid lyrics to conjure up images of lovers roaming the hinterlands on tracks like “Leading Me Now,” listeners will hear that even his picking, literally and figuratively, has evolved.
Mattson has moved on, arrived somewhere else. And so, though it goes without saying, There’s No Leaving Now.