Asking The Tallest Man On Earth to grow might seem a bit over-demanding, but there was a certain amount of pressure on Kristian Mattson to develop his sound a bit further on his second album. His debut full-length, Shallow Grave from 2008, was full of thrilling, recklessly high-speed folk adventures with each winding tale told at blistering pace with Mattson’s trademark voice. He had a formula alright, but it worked pretty well.
His second album, The Wild Hunt, has just been released and I, like many other fans, was eager to see what direction his music would follow. The first single released as a taster earlier in the year was “King of Spain” and it is now easy to see why. The track is probably the most reminiscent of his first album and is one of the most immediate and exciting songs in the new collection. It’s all break-neck plucking and gravelly-voiced attitude and will have easily pleased fans of his earlier release. There are few other moments on the album though that bear such a strong resemblance. The title track opens the album in a more relaxed and pensive fashion, while the closer “Kids On The Run” is a piano-led ode that recalls the likes of Cat Stevens at times. Tracks like “Burden of Tomorrow” and “A Lion’s Heart” find Mattson exploring new vocal territory, with more expressive and emotive tones than his usual snarl through gritted teeth. Though the pace of this album certainly has more variety than its predecessor, it never really lulls and this is largely down to the fact that he has retained his skill of crafting concise and compelling songs in keeping with the American folk tradition that the Swede so obviously admires. Below is an MP3 of “Burden Of Tomorrow” and after the jump is a YouTube stream of “King Of Spain” and a video of him just being all-round deadly. He returns to Whelan’s on June 10th after a fantastic gig there last year.