In the early 2010’s I became obsessed with Sweedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson who we all know and love as The Tallest Man On Earth. This was a time in my life when I got married, had my daughter and I have so many fond memories attached to his music especially the albums The Wild Hunt and There’s No Leaving Now. I can remember driving back from our first trip away with our new-born daughter to the Cotswolds with There’s No Leaving Now soundtracking the journey. At the time of release, I wrote about There’s No Leaving Now describing it as a modern-day classic, proclaiming that we did not have to wait to see if this was an album to stand the test of time it was one of those magical albums that you knew you were in the company of greatness from the moment you hit play.
Over a decade later my love and feelings for The Tallest Man On Earth have not changed one bit. I still firmly believe he is one of the greatest singer songwriters on Planet Earth. His seventh full length album Henry St is yet another fine example of how to craft beautiful songs and put them together in an album format that allows us lucky listeners to escape from the world. Although there are similarities that run through all the albums there is also clear evolution within each release. Henry St. adds to this journey through the combination of many different instruments and sounds including ukuleles, electric guitars, piano, strings, drums all combining to ensure there is more than enough on this album to keep everyone interesting.
The album opens with Bless You giving us that familiar heart melting acoustic guitar, gentle twinkling sounds that will fill you with joy before that voice appears and fills your ears with the most warming, soothing and comforting sound you could possible wish for. Lyrically this song sees Kristian contemplating where he is in life “I dance with the wrecking ball / On the lonesome side of times”. He has always been a master of imagery within his lyrics and there is a great image of life in Bless You “Life is a drunken bird in neon lights”. Looking for Love follows with its gentle uplifting melodies that allow the listener to go on a very peaceful journey full of love and hope. Every Little Heart is driven by infectious melodies that will hold your attention. Lyrically this song appears to be about seeing the world from as many different perspectives as possible “I’m going to see the world / Through every little heart I know” something we all need to be doing.
Slowly Rivers Turn is a kaleidoscope of sounds and images giving the album an uplifting anthemic pop song that you certainly will not forget any time soon. Major League is a love song to all things Americana with references to baseball and the banjo sound that will be sure to put a smile on your face. Henry St. is in my opinion the standout song on this album, every song is worthy of greatness yet there is something truly special about a song that is held together with a sombre piano and vocals that mean every word that is sung. The lyrics are full of reflections on life and fame, trying to find your place in this world and being remembered “We were told that we’re all someone / Then the world just looks way” .
Following the title track is no easy feat yet In Your Garden Still manages to do so with its melodies that embrace you with open arms. This is another uplifting pop song that in an ideal world would be at the top of the charts. Goodbye gives the album another reflective moment that allows the listener to be alone with their thoughts, contemplate life and who we are and what we mean to others “Where do you go with your madness and all? / You’re a train that ends on the shore / And who will you be when the tide reach your thought”. Italy is another sweet song with melodies full of sunshine and yet more lyrics about life and time. I was listening to this album for the first time out walking my dog and when I heard the lyric “Out in the river of time” I instantly smiled and felt an extra skip in my step. What a wonderful way of thinking about life and the time we have as a river of time.
New Religion is an anthemic song that has clearly been produced in a way to allow us to hear all the instrumentation, each little twist and turn and the introduction of strings is remarkable. This is one of the boldest songs that Tallest Man On Earth has recorded and one that shows he is not an artist to standstill. Foothills closes this perfect album in a delicate way that will leave you with nothing but love, empathy and understanding in your heart.
On Henry St. we were asked “Will I ever be remembered? / Will my days just come alive?” Kristian Matsson I can promise you that we will always remember you. Your music has given us so much joy and love over the last thirteen years and with this new album Henry St. you have shown the world you are one of the if not THE greatest singer song-writers we have and you are someone we will love cherish and adore until the end of time.