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First Listen: The Tallest Man On Earth, 'There's No Leaving Now'

The Tallest Man on Earth's new album, <em>There's No Leaving Now</em>, comes out June 12.
Julia Mard
The Tallest Man on Earth's new album, There's No Leaving Now, comes out June 12.

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For those unfamiliar with The Tallest Man on Earth — a.k.a. Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian Matsson, who is of average size at best — skip directly to "Wind and Walls," which pops up roughly two-thirds of the way through There's No Leaving Now. Lest you think you've got Matsson's formula locked down (guy + guitar = guy + guitar), the song bobs and sways with undeniable rhythm, propelled by subtly dazzling finger-picking and vocals that project his insights to the rafters without losing their nuance. That's Matsson's formula: His music, constructed from the simplest and boldest of ingredients, maintains a capacity for bounciness, poignancy, propulsion and grace.

The Tallest Man on Earth's third full-length album, There's No Leaving Now, does tweak Matsson's sound every now and then — the piano that replaces his guitar in the title track provides the quietest jolt you'll hear today — yet sticks largely to it-ain't-broke mode. These 10 songs, like those before them, dazzle and shimmy and sulk, as Matsson continues to conjure images of a young Dylan projecting his voice through a megaphone. If the album seems more like a skillful remake than a sequel, that's okay: Out June 12, There's No Leaving Now remakes Matsson's sound subtly, but in highlight-strewn style.

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)

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