I’ve been listening to There’s No Leaving Now steadily for the past few days. In 2010 I hailed The Wild Hunt as the third best album of the year, and I’ve been singing the praises of The Tallest Man On Earth ever since. Upon my first tour through the new album, it didn’t immediately knock me out. I have to admit, I got pretty annoyed with Kristian Matsson and his unwillingness to make a record I immediately loved.
But then I listened to it again, and again, and again. Over the course of maybe ten listens I started seeing things a bit more clearly, understanding some of the nuance of this work. This is a bigger album than The Wild Hunt, in both the scope and production Matsson has turned it up a notch. There’s No Leaving Now has a more cinematic feel to it, and if you know TTMOE, you know that he’s the musical equivalent of a Spielberg or Scorsese.
Earlier this month the first single, “1904,” was released. I never listened to it. I wanted to know as little as possible before hearing the album in full, and I think that was the right call because “1904” is toward the bottom of my favorites on this album. It’s a good song, no doubt. Compared to some of the stronger tunes it really isn’t a contest though.
My overall favorite is “Revelation Blues.” It’s the second track on the record, and it really showcases everything that’s good about Tallest Man. Matsson plays acoustic, electric, and banjo on top of his aching vocals and heartbreakingly beautiful lyrics.
I was more than just a coward
I was handsome too
I felt nothing when your flood came down
Holding fines that made me wonder
If the lights were wrong
With my hands they never touched no ground
When your talent is in numbers
Of the many times you go
I could lie I don’t care ’bout forgiving
But sometimes it’s just roses
Dying too young
There’s something different about Matsson on There’s No Leaving Now. His voice is lower and a little scratchy while maintaining the nasal delivery he’s known for. It’s like he’s stick somewhere between Mark Lanegan and a young Dylan. I believe this is done on purpose by the 29 year old to add some feeling of maturity to his sound (though I never thought he lacked that).
Vocally, my favorite performance comes on the sparse, piano-led title track. The album deals a lot with mortality and faith as well as man’s place in nature (maybe Matsson is more Malick than Spielberg).
And with your quiet damn devotion
To be lost like your child again
Claim forever is a close and honest friend
To your ways
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
Your fear of the leading light
If they are with you and your heart won’t fail
To see through a fearless eye
And know that danger finally goes away
Still you’re trying
But there’s no leaving now
Honestly, I could quote Matsson’s lyrics all day long, but it won’t do you much good without hearing it for yourself.
It’s hard to say The Wild Hunt is a better album than There’s No Leaving Now. They’re very similar, and yet completely different. For pure storytelling and instrumental intricacy, I’d definitely take this new record. For just a simple enjoyable listen Wild Hunt is tough to beat, but this comes close. It’s still not out for a couple weeks, so you have some time to catch up if you’ve never listened to The Tallest Man On Earth.