In the six years since the release of his debut EP, The Tallest Man on Earth (a.k.a. Kristian Mattson) has garnered comparisons to Bob Dylan at nearly every turn, and on There’s No Leaving Now, the 29-year-old singer-songwriter may well have his very own Electric Dylan Controversy.
Mattson’s third full-length album opens with the sound of a cheerful electric guitar, which is quickly complemented by a subdued drum track, airy organ, and bass guitar—all foreign instruments, given Matsson’s stripped-down acoustic track record. Here, however, there are no reasons to boo. (Not that there were in 1965.) Rather, the added elements are a welcome addition to Matsson’s intricate fingerpicking and signature nasal twang—apart from the solemn, piano-driven title track, There’s No Leaving Now feels notably less pain-tinged than Matsson’s previous releases.
While the lighter mood certainly lacks some of the dark, brooding urgency of Shallow Grave and The Wild Hunt, the album still showcases Matsson’s stellar songwriting abilities, which are at their best in the surprisingly upbeat “Revelation Blues” and standout “Wind and Walls.” The 10 tracks flow effortlessly into one another, which rounds off some of the emotional and musical peaks Matsson has delivered in the past.
For the most part, There’s No Leaving Now is less of a raw rollercoaster ride than it is a well-crafted, steady straight line—similar to Dylan’s monotonous voice. Okay, the nods to Dylan might be getting a bit tiresome, but when it comes to creative comparisons, you could do a lot worse.
Playlist picks: “Revelation Blues,” “Wind and Walls”