It’s difficult being a singer-songwriter. I realize that. It’s awfully lonely up there, and there is so very little to hide behind during a performance. The singer-songwriter must bear his/her soul to ingratiating friends and overly cruel critics who have a personal vendetta against the genre as a whole because they met a singer-songwriter once and said singer-songwriter turned out to be a self-righteous douche and since then it has been easier to ridicule than to be a sincere sympathetic audience. So you have to admire the courage of the singer-songwriter to putting him/herself out there.
That being said, I present to you, The Tallest Man On Earth along with the argument that he is the epitome of good singing and songwriting. His second, most recent album “The Wild Hunt,” his first with can-do-no-wrong record label Dead Oceans, is a beautifully crafted specimen that hides behind nothing. It is perfect harmony between music and words.
The guitar sounds rustic, old, classic. Finding a balance between powerful strumming and masterful picking, the music is beautiful and subtle. It is confident without being overwhelming and supports our Swedish troubadour in his articulations of loneliness and life outside city limits.
As he plays, the words he sings seem to belong to the music, like they wouldn’t exist without each other. And the words, though inseparable, make The Tallest Man On Earth a singe-songwriter that truly understands the nature of the game. He toys with the words so that he is not so much singing about the signified but rather is exploring what the signifiers can do for themselves.
But that’s complicated (and possibly wrong as I have a very limited understanding of Derrida) and I just want to get across that The Tallest Man On Earth is doing more than singing narcissistic, autobiographical songs. That his songs aren’t just relying on clichés; they are engaging the listener openly as a self to a self, like a good singer songwriter, as opposed to a self to an other, like a typically bad singer songwriter. And “The Wild Hunt“ is more than an exploration of self, but the self in relation to the world.
In my personal opinion, it’s absolutely exhilarating to hear his “King of Spain” and his wishing that “you could reinvent my name, well if you could redirect my name, I wanna be the King of Spain.” (The whole signifier signified thing.) Or his heart wrenching “Love Is All” with the wonderful picking through a sad yet somehow optimistic musical phrase, he sings “I could rise from the harness of our goals. Here come the tears. But as always, I let them go” or “My house made from spider webs and the clouds rolling in. I bet this mighty river is both my savior and my sin.”
I mean, can’t you just feel that? Well give it a listen and get back to me.