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The Tallest Man on Earth

Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird

(Dead Oceans; US: 9 Nov 2010; UK: 8 Nov 2010)

Following close on the heels of the excellent album The Wild Hunt, The Tallest Man on Earth offers this equally impressive EP of front-porch folk songs. It may turn out to be one of the year’s best. Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird finds Swedish-born Kristian Matsson carving a trail through wide meadows and acres of wheat fields, leaving in his wake gorgeous meditations on loneliness and longing. “Like the Wheel” opens with a vocal melody that’s a dead ringer for the Magnetic Fields’ “Papa Was a Rodeo”, but Matsson gives us a chorus that he can proudly call his own: “And I said, ‘Oh, my Lord, why I am I not strong?’ / Like the wheels that keeps travelers traveling on”.  On “The Dreamer”, Matsson is paired nicely with a full-bodied electric guitar, the EP’s only detour from meticulous finger-picking. This EP won’t help the Swedish bard to shed the frequent comparison to Bob Dylan (see Matsson’s vocal slides at the end of phrases on “Thrown Right At Me”), but Sometimes the Blues Is Just a Passing Bird is still the sound of a man who’s totally comfortable in his own skin. You’re also likely to find great comfort across these five tracks.


Freeden is a graduate student in sociology. He lives in Oakland, CA. A former sixth grade teacher in Philadelphia, he once took some of his students to a Dizzee Rascal concert. They met the rapper after the show and found his accent perplexing.

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