Since the release of Shallow Grave, Kristian Matsson, who goes under the moniker The Tallest Man on Earth, has remained true to himself and his Swedish indie-folk roots. On The Wild Hunt, Matsson was set on finding adventure and running away from his problems. On There’s No Leaving Now, Matsson purposefully traps himself to confront his issues. With his most recent release, Dark Bird Is Home, Matsson finally finds peace, truth, and comfort, and he’s not afraid of embracing it. Dark Bird Is Home is The Tallest Man on Earth’s most ambitious and gorgeously crafted album to date. It’s pleasingly simple, delicately sincere, and deeply engrossing, as Matsson steps out from the shadows and into the light.
In February, Matsson released the first single, “Sagres.” The song, held together by a soft drum kit and charisma, borderlines on a DIY-style, but with more lush sounding instruments around him. Matsson wraps himself up in his own worries and self-deprecation, as the song unfolds to him singing as if he is almost out-of-breath with the lines, “It’s not me knowing I’m yet to see fire / It’s just all this f***ing doubt.” It’s one of Matsson’s most free flowing and spiritual songs to date. “Sagres” is a great lead single as it incorporates most of the album’s peculiar qualities in one.
Matsson keeps up his uplifting, free flowing side with “Slow Dance.” Matsson has never appeared more relaxed and at ease then he does on this track. The poetic lyrics are romanticized and we hear Matsson coming out of his shell rather triumphantly. When he sings, “I guess my rhythm grew from my darker time,” it’s clear that Dark Bird Is Home is an album that could only have been made after he shed his dead skin and past worries on the first three. He’s embracing his comfort and enriching himself deep in his current feelings. He recognizes happiness, like all emotions, are fleeting and quickly change, so he finds solace in the now. His confidence here is also quite bold as he sings, “In a place like this I should never feel afraid.”
Even on the more mellow songs, Matsson brings forth an array of new and invigorating arrangements. “Fields of Our Home” ends with a distant, beautiful choir that slowly makes its way to the forefront in a wavelike fashion. “Darkness of the Dream” is enchanting, spiritually uplifting, and disarming. Although it’s muddled with dark undertones, it’s ending is wonderfully inviting. “Little Nowhere Towns” contain well-crafted piano swoops, harmonious backup singers, and some deep-cutting lyrics: “And I barely can remember little feet on solid ground / And the drinking part is useless when you’re barely away from the sounds / Carolina, where are you ending up this time?”
“Beginners” is one of The Tallest Man On Earth’s most tenderhearted songs. It’s easily Matsson’s most personal and direct track, where we find him rushing off lyrics as if he’s letting out all his worries and troubles at once. He’s figuring it out as he sings, “I could just leave tomorrow, but baby letting you go / All these sorrows will be just of sorrow / And we have no idea, but then what else do we know / We let it out, to let it ride.” Fitting in a gorgeous piano melody and adorable strumming patterns, “Beginners” is as carefree as childhood.
With the vivacity of the rest of Dark Bird Is Home, Matsson still finds worry and humility in the brightest of corners. “Singers” is a delicate, echoic springtime track that highlights horns and violins. The closing track, “Dark Bird Is Home” has Matsson reflecting, “But this is not the end, no this is fine.” Matsson is in a comfortable place, but he manages to find ambition with a newly inspired flame. Dark Bird Is Home opens Matsson up to lush orchestration, gorgeous harmonies, and his own fears and woes, in an amiable light.