Music Interviews
2:03 am
Mon June 11, 2012

The Tallest Man On Earth: Tired Of Running

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 11:11 am

Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson performs as The Tallest Man on Earth. That's just his stage name, though: Matsson himself stands at about 5 feet 7. His new album, There's No Leaving Now, comes out Tuesday.

Matsson has been praised as a poet, and is frequently compared to Bob Dylan. He often sings about nature, inspired by the scenery near his home in Falun, Sweden.

"Outside my window is a big field, and maybe 200 meters down, there's the river, and on the opposite side of my house, there's the woods," he says.

His music can be mellow — it's constructed from simple folk-music ingredients — but that's not how Matsson says he sees himself.

"As you can probably hear, I'm kind of a stressed-out guy," he says.

Matsson says he's dealt with stress and anxiety in his music, and his older songs often return to the theme of running away. But on his new record, he brings a fresh outlook: a feeling of wanting to confront, not run. His recent marriage seems to have made him stronger.

"This whole album is about wanting to stay and deal with your own weaknesses and wanting to deal with your anxieties and stuff," he says.

The new Matsson says he channels his anxiety into his performances.

"When it's just me, I have to reach out to the audience and try to bond a little with them," he says. "In another way, they're all I've got."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LEADING ME NOW")

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Now to some new music from a Swedish singer/songwriter. Kristian Matsson performs as The Tallest Man on Earth. That's his stage name; he stands at just about fived foot seven inches tall. He's one of NPR Music's favorite artists and he's got a new album.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LEADING ME NOW")

KRISTIAN MATSSON: (Singing) By the eyes of the very young it's a sudden good attack. On a weakness my horse and I carry anger forth and back, but we'll make it somehow...

GREENE: If you're hearing a hint of Bob Dylan, you're not alone. Matsson has been praised as a poet, drawing some comparisons to Dylan. He often sings about nature, words inspired by the scenery near his home in Falun, Sweden.

MATSSON: Outside my window is a big field. And maybe 200 meters down, there's the river. And on the opposite side of my house, there's the woods.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TO JUST GROW AWAY")

MATSSON: (Singing) Like the rain to help the river but a river so hard to please. But I've grown to see the diamonds you've thrown in just for me...

GREENE: His music sounds pretty mellow, but Matsson doesn't see himself that way.

MATSSON: As you can probably hear from - I'm this kind of a stressed out guy.

GREENE: Matsson has dealt with stress and anxiety. His older songs return to the theme of running away. But on his new record, called "There's No Leaving Now," he brings a fresh outlook, a feeling of wanting to confront, not run. His recent marriage seems to have made him stronger.

MATSSON: This whole album is about wanting to stay. Wanting to stay and deal with your own weaknesses and anxieties and stuff.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "1904")

MATSSON: (Singing) But the lesson is vague and the lightning shows a deer with her mind on the moor, and now something with the sun is just different since they shook the Earth in 1904.

GREENE: The new Matsson says any anxiety that's there, he channels it into his performances.

MATSSON: When it's just me, I have to reach out to the audience and try to bond a little with them. In another way, they're all I've got.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WINDS AND WALLS")

MATSSON: (Singing) In all these riots are broken sounds...

GREENE: That's Kristian Matsson, also known as The Tallest Man on Earth. His new album, "There's No Leaving Now," is out tomorrow and you can hear it now at NPRMusic.org. And addition to releasing the new album, Matsson is out on tour performing solo - just a man, his voice and his guitar.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WINDS AND WALLS")

MATSSON: (Singing) Well, all is well in order is what you thought you heard them say. So...

GREENE: And you're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WINDS AND WALLS")

MATSSON: (Singing) Light is turning slowly. Will it lay out on the plains? No more nights of what you wrote back then. No relief of no rain. And still singing songs of rivers tied... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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