Too Late for Edelweiss

Oct 26, 2022
Web Exclusive

By Ben Jardine


If you’ve been at a Tallest Man on Earth show over the last 14 years, you’ve heard the song “För Sent för Edelweiss.” Originally recorded by Swedish singer/songwriter Håkan Hellström, the song would play when The Tallest Man on Earth (another Swede, Kristian Mattson) walked on stage. In 2020, Mattson stopped hearing that song. There were no shows to play. But when he returned to the stage in August 2021, and that song played, he cried. “That song brings special meaning to me,” said Mattson, 39, in a press statement. “It will wake up my mind to full focus. Somehow the misery of breakup songs can be uplifting—a way to find connection. I have a lot of sad love songs like that of my own.”

It’s fitting then that Mattson’s cover of “För Sent för Edelweiss” would appear in an album of covers of songs that hold special meaning. This album is also named for the song, or at least the English translation: Too Late for Edelweiss.

In it are covers of songs that were crucial to Mattson’s early days; songs that he’d play for friends, or at soundchecks around the world. There’s Lucinda Wiliams’ “Metal Firecracker,” Hank Williams’ “Lost Highway,” and Nico’s “Fairest of the Seasons” (which was co-written by Jackson Browne)—all re-imagined with Mattson’s guitar and love for atmospherics.

Then there are the songs of Mattson’s contemporaries: Bon Iver’s “Blood Bank” and The National’s “Pink Rabbits.” Back in 2008, Bon Iver invited Mattson on a tour of North America—launching the latter’s American fanbase. A particular highlight of the album is The Beatles’ “In My Life,” which glimmers like a memory of the road and showcases Mattson’s exceptional fingerpicking style.

Mattson recorded Too Late for Edelweiss on the road, in North Carolina after a 39-show run, and in his home in Sweden. This gives the album a feeling of fast and loose energy, of comfortability: a mix of homespun recording, and nostalgia for the road. Edelweiss is a gift to a younger Mattson, and to generations of music appreciators. (www.thetallestmanonearth.com)

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