Well, let me preface this review with a story. I started listening to The Tallest Man on Earth in just about the last week of school or so. On a whim, a couple days after I moved back home from school I decided to look on The Tallest Man on Earth's myspace to see if he had any show dates. So I was cruisin' and lookin' and the second date or so on their tour space, which was a convenient very small US tour sponsored by friends of the artist, said "ALBANY, NEW YORK - LOSBSTERPALOOZA - WASHINGTON PARK 3:00pm". Immediately my mind shot to flashbacks of three days before at Baccalaureate, the night before moving out day, when my parents were joking around and telling everyone that we had to "Hurry home tomorrow because it's Lobsterpalooza across the street!". The next day I was all cranky and tired and didn't want to go to stupid-ass Lobsterpalooza, of course, because who in god's name that matters goes to Lobsterpalooza? Well, two days after Lobsterpalooza boy was I regretting that decision. "FUCK FUCK FUCK I COULD HAVE SEEN THE TALLEST MAN ON EARTH ACROSS THE STREET FUCK I MISSED A ONCE IN A LIFE TIME CHANCE SHIT" was how I pissed and moaned for days after that. But, since I came home around 3:00 and I did hear some music playing, I tell people that I once heard about 2 minutes of a Tallest Man on Earth show, which is more than they'll ever hear.
The moral of the story? Always go to Lobsterpalooza.
Anyway, Shallow Graves is the debut album by Finland's The Tallest Man on Earth. The Tallest Man on Earth presents solo bluegrass that you wouldn't believe comes from outside of Kentucky, let alone outside of the country. It's also hard to believe that is the one making the music, with his tattoos and gauged piercings in his ears. On the other side of things, thought he also looks young, he comes across as both very aged and world-weary in a way that fits the gravel and emotiveness of his voice. His voice becomes in ways, dare I say it, Dylan-esque, and he masterfully takes on the bluegrass twang in a way that is both subtle and genuine. The lyrics put forth on the album are touching and poetic, often dealing with life and love as you would expect a country/bluegrass album to. 's mastery of the language is superb and I probably would not have guessed that English was not his first language. The lyrics often use bird imagery which sometimes gets a bit repetitive, but is still refreshing and used more craftfully than most lyricists could. Each song reflects the perfect campfire atmosphere, and invokes a richness and a warmth unparalleled by many recordings. Though the production quality changes several times throughout the album, it doesn't affect the experience at all, and enhances each song on an individual level. Highlights on the album include Where do My Bluebird Fly (a personal favorite), I won't be Found, Pistol Dreams, and The Sparrow and the Medicine. I also highly recommend looking up the video to "It Will Follow the Rain", a track which is not on the album but is easily one of his best.