Published Jun 04, 2015For years, the Tallest Man on Earth has come off as a tireless workaholic, but this time around, any perceived ambition is purely situational. After releasing three albums and two EPs in six years, alongside a number of globe-trotting tours, Kristian Matsson (aka the Tallest Man on Earth) originally planned to take the entirety of 2014 off in order to "enjoy life at a slow pace."
What was meant to be an escape from the pressures of the road ended up revealing its own set of issues, as Matsson explains: "A lot of things happened in my personal life, I went through a divorce [from Swedish musician Idiot Wind] and a bunch of things, so I wrote a lot of new songs because I had a lot of things I had to get out."
The resulting tracks make up the bulk of his new album, the deeply personal and revealing Dark Bird Is Home. After recording 2012's There's No Leaving Now alone in his home during a predictably harsh Nordic winter, Matsson decided to take an antithetical approach for his fourth full-length. "I promised myself that next time it wouldn't be like that," Matsson says. "This time, I recorded it in the middle of summer in my new house and I have a studio on the property, which is great."
The studio in question would turn out to be thousands of miles away from his birthplace of Dalarna, Sweden, situated in the bucolic locale of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, best known to indie rock fans as the headquarters of Justin Vernon and his Bon Iver project. Given such close proximity to so many working musicians, Matsson invited players into the studio to help fill out his newly conceived tracks, including Bon Iver alumnus C.J. Camerieri on trumpet and French horn, Mike Lewis on saxophone and violist Mike Noyce.
Despite their tense origins, the resulting tracks come off surprisingly rich and charming, a tapestry of warm instrumentation and pristine arrangements. For those who view this drastic change of scenery as a response to the events surrounding his last album, Matsson healthily shrugs that off. "I just had the time and I had the equipment and I had the help of others — a lot of good things were lining up. I was able to let out a lot more stuff; that's why it's actually more 'me' than ever."