The formula for folk music is a simple one. An insightful songwriter, an acoustic guitar, and a song that has some thought provoking lyrics. Since a young Robert Zimmerman first descended from the North Country and decamped to Greenwich Village, we have been searching for the next great folk-singer, the next Bob Dylan. He may have finally arrived in the guise of Swedish folkster Kristian Matsson. While his moniker, The Tallest Man on Earth, may sound like someone Lebron James wishes he had on his team to help pave the way to the Eastern Conference finals, it is actually the perfect name under which to perform as Matsson is a perfect heir to Dylan’s legacy.
It is an easy comparison, Matsson to Dylan, but one that needs to be made (and one that Matsson seems to directly reference himself, as he sings about boots of Spanish leather on “King of Spain”.) Matsson’s rich, poetic lyrics leap to life through his intricate guitar work. In much the same way Dylan reinterpreted his cannon of musical heroes, Matsson has done the same, delivering his work with the same freewheeling feel of Dylan, but with a decidedly modern original approach. Whereas Dylan seemed to wrap his words up in a sarcastic sneer, Mattson words are delivered with a wavering vulnerability that draws the listener in close.
His latest release, The Wild Hunt, combines this vulnerability with his guitar work, which is full of oddly timed strums and finger-picking, to create an album that is a worthy successor to his debut and an affirmation of his status as the heir to Dylan’s legacy.
The Wild Hunt is out now on Secretly Canadian.