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“There’s no leaving now”, Kristian Mattson’s third solo album as The Tallest Man on Earth, was my introduction to his music and though I fell deeply in love with its gentle beauty, much as I did his following three albums, I still have yet to explore his first two records. Perhaps it’s a needless worry that his songwriting might not stand up to what I’ve heard is a more bare-bones sound – just him and his guitar – that has kept me from them. I’m sure I’ll get to them eventually and when I do, I’m sure that I’ll love them just as I do the rest of his tunes.
How can I not?
Just listen to our song today, “1904”, with its loving strum and cascading guitar flourishes, and let the wistful joy wash over you. Kristian is channelling Dylan and Drake and Guthrie, jamming with friends by candlelight, seated on sofa cushions pulled from their normal spots and transferred to the scuffed up hardwood of a high-ceilinged Victorian home. He is singing about an earth shattering and earth shaking moment, some have pointed to an earthquake that occurred in his part of the world in the year referenced in the song’s title, but you get the feeling as the song pulls you in, that the actual event doesn’t matter. It’s how you allow it to affect you, how you learn from it, and how you carry on afterwards that really matters.
“And the singing is slow and so quiet
Like the sound when you sweep off the floor
And now something with the dirt is just different
Since they shook the earth in 1904”
I remember when I first heard this song and the album on which it appears and could not believe what I was hearing. Perfect folk, out of time and out of place. Much like Swedish compatriots First Aid Kit, home informs his sensibilities, just as much as his love for those that influenced his sound. It is all so obvious and so passionate and so easy to get caught up in and pulled along in its wake. He has said that in writing this album, he wanted a brittle sound, one that gives a “feeling that it might just fall apart” at any moment. And he’s definitely achieved this precariousness, a moment in perfection that we all know can’t last forever.
But luckily for us, we can simply replay the track and live it all over again.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2012 list, click here.