At 29 years old, Kristian Matsson, better known as The Tallest Man on Earth, feels he may have finally grown up. The release of “There’s No Leaving Now,” out on Dead Oceans, marks the Swedish singer-songwriter’s third full-length album. Currently touring the U.S., Maatson invited AudioFile backstage before his headlining show at New York City’s Town Hall.
After two years of being on the road, Matsson returned to his home in Sweden to both write and record the new album. He describes the latest set of songs as a departure from his previous work, “Shallow Grave” and “Wild Hunt.” For him, the title track, “There’s No Leaving Now,” encompasses a journey of personal growth. Lines like
Will there be time to harvest rivers
that for so long refused to grow?
All the little things you need to build a home
For your love
suggest a sense of urgency to find what he’s been searching for. “I guess I’ve matured a little,” Matsson said. He added:
“I wasn’t really planning on putting [the song] on the album at first, but then, you know, it ended up becoming the album title because it’s what the album is about. I wrote a lot of ‘running away’ songs before, and this album is about wanting to stay at one place and to deal with fears and anxieties and stuff like that.”
The idea of finally settling down rings especially true when one considers Matsson’s marriage to fellow musician Amanda Bergman, who opened for The Tallest Man on Earth under the name Idiot Wind. Though initially recalcitrant to address how their relationship directly inspired his songwriting, Matsson did concede, “If you’re married, you’re married to this amazing woman, you want to be—you want to be the best for them, and that’s not always easy.”
In addition to playing together on stage, Matsson reveals he often tries out new material on his wife. They have written songs together, as well, but only in a limited capacity. He explained: “We’ve been busy with our own lot. And then just being busy with other stuff that’s just not music, you know? Just regular life. But maybe in the future we will more.”
At heart, Matsson claims he’s just a homebody who enjoys the simple things: “To be home, in my house, and to cook food. And to just not care about what you’re wearing–stuff like that. I miss my dog.”
Images of country life and the outdoors color The Tallest Man on Earth’s music. And Matsson’s natural gift for lyrical poetry (he writes all of his music in English without translation), along with the raw quality in his voice, has drawn inescapable comparisons to America’s folk legend, Bob Dylan.
Where the questions about the songwriter used to get under his skin—”Journalists get on me about it all the time. [...] Everyone, especially the French.”—Matsson finds himself more accepting now of what he views as a “flattering” compliment. He concluded: “I guess it really comes to a point where I’m not too bothered by that because you just want to write music. It doesn’t feel like it really matters. This is how I write songs and this is how I sing.”
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