Though Kristian Matsson’s stature does not meet the expectations set forth by his stage moniker, Tallest Man on Earth, he was plenty intimidating in presence during his recent show at the Mercury Lounge. Pacing about the stage and having staring contests with the audience, he would single out someone and approach them with wide-eyes, only to shift his gaze moments later. His momentum would pause only to growl a verse, then he would return to his wandering ways.
Though “Dylanesque” is more of a curse than a compliment anymore, there are some who earn the adjective, and Matsson is one of them. Between his plucky guitar picking and the nasal-wail of his voice there’s enough fuel for the comparison, but even beyond that, it extends to the rhythm of his lyrics:
As I knock your door from inside once more
How I wish a soothin’ breeze would let me in
Shake my tambourine at your glowing dreams
So honey won’t you let me in
For a Swedish singer-songwriter with just one album (Shallow Grave) to his name, Matsson was warmly received by an enthusiastic crowd, some of whom even knew the lyrics. It could be the endorsements from indie-folk crooner of the moment Bon Iver, who Matsson opened for the next few nights, and Pitchfork, who gave his LP a rave, have helped.
Performing opening duties for Matsson at Mercury Lounge was dream-folk chanteuse Marissa Nadler. Singing with a similar wide-mouthed, ethereal effect to that of a deeper-voiced Joanna Newsome, Nadler has come to be known for her dark imagery, easily seen in just a handful of song titles – “Bird on Your Grave,” “River of Dirt,” “Ghosts and Lovers.” But like many a good pessimist, Nadler is ultimately a romantic scorned. “Sometimes you bring me flowers and misery,” she quipped at the beginning of a new song. If that’s what keeps her writing poetry like “Diamond Heart,” though – I had a man in every town / and I thought of you each time I tore off my gown – maybe it’s best she stays single.
Image courtesy flickr user Karl Gunnarsson