The Tallest Man on Earth has spent his entire career drawing comparisons to Bob Dylan. A complimentary comparison, no doubt, and a deserved one at that. However, The Tallest Man on Earth warrants distinction of his own. Album after album, he has evolved both sonically and lyrically, relentlessly tweaking his sound, and his newest EP, Sometimes the Blues is Just a Passing Bird, is further evidence of said evolution.
Not to draw another comparison to Dylan, but the second track of the EP, “The Dreamer,” marks the point in which The Tallest Man on Earth has “gone electric.” Albeit a much more subtle transition, it is nonetheless a shift worth noting. The song maintains the delicacy that has become a calling card of the singer/songwriter, but in its soft distortion, evidence of American rock and roll makes a rare cameo. The song sounds as if it could be a Rolling Stones deep cut, rolling along with a familiar blues-pop guitar part and a catchy melody that has, strangely enough, Phil Collins moments.
The rest of the EP is a more traditional display of tunes that can be expected from The Tallest Man on Earth. They involve a lot of beautiful fingerpicking, soaring vocal melodies, and poetic lyrics about sparrows and the like. Although these songs are of a familiar structure, there is still that evolution in his songwriting. Alphabetically, his first EP, The Tallest Man on Earth, comes right after this one, and as my iTunes shifted from this EP to that, the most stark difference seems to be a sense of comfortability. Over the years, The Tallest Man on Earth has gained confidence in his lyrics, his voice, and even his guitar parts. It has turned into a sound that is undeniably his. And true, Dylan still haunts these songs, though less and less, but this new collection of five songs are as original and innovative as folk has been in recent memory.