Thursday, April 21, 2011

Songwriting Spank Material - "Love Is All"

On May 24 of this year a man named Robert Zimmerman will turn 70 years old. You might know him by another name - Bob Dylan. Ten years ago when Dylan turned 60 years old the music community realized something it hadn't considered - Bob Dylan is getting older and one day he will die, and there will be a void in the world of songwriting. I heard a debate shortly after his 60th birthday. The subject was simple - Who is Bob Dylan's heir apparent? And everyone had an opinion. Some went with more mainstream choices - Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty. Others had less mainstream ideas - Sarah McLachlan and Connor Oberst. I heard people try to make a case for Billy Corgan and Elliot Smith. I, myself, thought I'd discovered the next Dylan in a little known songwriter named Dan Bern (who I still contend is the best songwriter you've never heard of). Then one day, my good friend Clint e-mailed me about a songwriter he'd come across that I needed to check out. Clint has never disappointed me with a musical suggestion. The songwriter's name is Kristian Matsson, and he performs under the name The Tallest Man On Earth, and I can tell you, without a doubt, he is the next Bob Dylan.

The Tallest Man on Earth has two albums - Shallow Graves and The Wild Hunt - and every single song on them is not just good, but brilliant. I could do a Song Writing Spank Material blog for all of them, and in particular: "The Blizzard's Never Seen The Desert Sands," "I Won't Be Found," "Pistol Dreams," "Shallow Grave," "The Wild Hunt," and "Burden of Tomorrow". However, I decided to be really disciplined about this and decided to narrow my choices down to one song. This was an incredibly hard thing for me to so because I think a lot of these songs are equally brilliant, but one I kept coming back to was "Love Is All."

Again, I don't know that "Love Is All" is necessarily the best song in The Tallest Man On Earth's arsenal, but it's a major player, and it has a lot of great songwriting elements. The first thing that strikes me about this song is the chord progression and the over all style of the guitar. It's very different from a lot of The Tallest Man On Earth's stuff. It's more subdued and plays around with more minor chord changes than in most of his other stuff. The second thing is his vocals. He plays around with a hook at the end of each verse "w-hoa-oh-oh," "si-i-i-in," and so forth. These phrases bounce with the acoustic guitar. Then as he says the word "rise" he lets us see his vocal range and the song builds from there, and it builds wonderfully. So the guitar is interesting, the vocal phrasing is diverse, and oh yes...the lyrics are amazing. That first line where he says, "I walk upon the river 'cause it's easier than land," is a line I can truly say I wish was mine. I could go on and on about how great this song is, but I'll let you listen for yourself. Here is The Tallest Man On Earth with "Love Is All."

1 comment:

Min said...

:) Thanx for sharing. I'll definitely keep my ear on this one and check out Dan Bern, too.