The Tallest Man on Earth is a blend of gravelly heartfelt vocals and a beautiful flurried mix of picking and strumming on an open tuned guitar. Put on just about any song and within the first minute you'll be able to pick out the influence of Nick Drake, Woody Gunthrie, and Bob Dylan. With a sometimes overwhelming series a metaphors, The Tallest Man on Earth has been recording his Southern U.S. blend of folk since 2007 when he released his eponymous EP. Shortly after this in 2008, he released his first full length album Shallow Grave. This garnered the attention of Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and was brought along to open for Bon Iver whilst they were supporting their album, For Emma, Forever Ago.
From there he started to garner a great deal of national attention. From playing NPR's tiny desk to embarking on his own US tour, The Tallest Man on Earth had become an up an comer in the world of folk. He followed his debut LP with the critically acclaimed Wild Hunt. Here he kept his gritty vocals and furious style of guitar, but added another layer at times. Still, it was just a man and a guitar, sometimes with his own guitar embellishments sprinkled on top of solo act. He also showed his flexibility, playing piano for the first time on record in "Kids on the Run." He again added a layer to his songs in his most recent effort There's No Leaving Now, with flutes, drums, bass and other elements. They all serve the purpose of accenting a man and his guitar, and that's perfectly fine when it's Kristian behind both of those.
Similar Artists: Deer Tick, A.A. Bondy, First Aid Kit
Shallow Grave (2008)
The Wild Hunt (2010)
Love is All
There's No Leaving Now (2012)
Should you decide to delve into the albums themselves, I'd suggest working your way through chronologically, though some would argue The Wild Hunt is a better starting point. The albums are highly listenable, and with the 3 LPs totalling under 1 hour and 45 minutes, it could easily be done in an afternoon.
Live: A man and his guitar is becoming more and more infrequent relative to other performances. That's about what you get with The Tallest Man on Earth, though I've been told he now has a bass player and 2 brass players for certain songs. He records the vocal track and primary guitar part simultaneously, and the result is him losing nothing live. I've been fortunate enough to see him live 3 times, and each time you can see this incredible focus on his face throughout each song. It used to be, during his earlier tours, that he'd give the audience just a few words between sets. He has grown to have some wonderful audience interaction, and as he has come into his own as a performer you'll even be able to spot some smiles alongside that focus. It's dead simple, if you like the albums then you will love him live. Below I've shown a few of his live performances I love, but really YouTube has more than you could listen to between now and Roo.
Personal Notes: I've been hoping to see The Tallest Man on Earth on the farm since 2009, and cannot express how excited I was to see him on the lineup finally this year. The man can play guitar, the man can sing, and boy can he write songs. It's going to be the middle of a day in a tent, and I'm going to be as close as I can be with the biggest goddamned grin on my face.
The Tallest Man on Earth is one of the few conflicts that I have throughout the week. I found him through my research going into Bonnaroo and have become a fan. Unfortunately, he is on at the same time has Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls. Makes for a really tough decision there! No matter what I decide to do there, I will definitely continue to look into more of his music! Great find for me!