Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Listen: The Tallest Man on Earth - "Sagres"

photo by Cameron Wittig
One of the most frequent answers Swedish singer/songwriter Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man on Earth gives when asked what he's been doing between album cycles is working on his singing. It's an answer that always struck me as a little odd considering Matsson doesn't exactly lack in vocal ability and I found his occasional grittiness a charming infusion of character.  And yet on "Sagres", the first single from The Tallest Man on Earth's heavily anticipated follow up to 2012's There's No Leaving Now it's never been more evident that that's exactly what he's been up to.

Matsson's characteristic rasps is transformed instead into a sweet, supple croon and his higher register is enough of a marvel that he spends a considerable amount of time up there. There's a comfort and ease in the slide and glide of his vocals that enables him to do considerably more with it. But that's not the only new quality in "Sagres". Matsson doesn't exactly shelve his trademark guitar but guitar and vocals are no longer the sole focus and Matsson opens the song up with a lush expansiveness. From castanets to violin and mandolin, The Tallest Man on Earth explores a diverse array of instrumentation in what's arguably one of his lengthiest songs. "Sagres" is perhaps the poppiest Matsson has gone but even then it's not that far from his guitar-driven folk rambles.

He may not have spent the whole three years between albums off the grid but there's no denying "Sagres" reveals a refreshed and re-energized Matsson with a bevy of new tricks up his sleeves. There might be no need to fix what isn't broken but Matsson's gone about improving anyway and "Sagres" bodes well for the rest of the upcoming album.

The Tallest Man on Earth's fourth full length album Dark Bird Is Home is out May 12th on Dead Oceans. Pre-order is available on digital, CD, LP, or limited edition deluxe bundle here.

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