“I’m just a dreamer, but I’m hanging on,” sings Kristin Matsson (better known by his aspirational moniker The Tallest Man On Earth), in as close to a croon as his creaky voice will allow. Matsson has been called “the Swedish Bob Dylan”, partly for his scratchy acoustic guitar and wandering-the-world lyricism. But the comparison works best when you listen to his vocals—filled with gravel and dirt, as if he keeps his vocal cords planted in the soil like roots.
Not on this song, though. “The Dreamer”, off the 2010 Sometimes The Blues Is Just A Passing Bird EP, finds Matsson with his voice uncharacteristically soaring. It helps that an electric guitar accompanies his vocals for the first time ever on a record, its feedback creating a jagged counterpoint to Matsson’s voice. Without drums or bass or anything besides a quiet lead guitar line, it sounds almost like a live cut, as if he’s alone on a stage somewhere making it up as he goes along. But there’s more driving the song than the empty room effect—there’s the wistfulness in his singing, the thought that things can get better if you wait a moment and let them.
When I was in college, it was the perfect song for coasting on my bike, usually down to the gym for morning practice. I played it today on my drive to work, the sand still in my eyes from sleep. It’s a peaceful song, but it makes me feel more alive than I should be allowed to feel, like my heart’s expanding too far and I might burst at any second. It’s like waking up.
Play this song: In the morning, when the light’s just coming over the buildings downtown. Preferably with wind in your hair.