Highlights: To Just Grow Away, 1904, Criminals
I’m not saying that with a voice less whiny he (Sweden’s Kristian Matsson) could be the next Nick Drake, but there’s definitely an intriguing, timeless element to this music, best heard in those contemporary, if old-fashioned, folk melodies or the gorgeous guitar playing. On occasion. On occasion it is every bit as tedious and annoying as your Bon Iver record.
That voice. It’s as if that voice has become an inevitable part of indie-ing up folk music. Nothing you can’t get used to, of course, and once you do, there’s no stopping you from appreciating much of this stuff. Particularly on the first half of the album, when his indie update of Dylan doesn’t get too grating. “1904” being a mysterious, classic-sounding ballad. Then Kristian switches to piano on the endless title track (only four and a half minutes in fact, but they just wouldn’t end), and it all starts falling apart. There’s no reason why anyone would want to sit through spineless tracks like “Little Brother” or the closing “On Every Page” that lack any edge. Speaking of side B, the fluid, fingerpicked “Criminals” is a successful impersonation of an early Dylan song, but that’s about it.
Overall, There’s No Leaving Now is a listen both brilliant and frustrating. The most frustrating thing being that this stuff could have been so much better. The guy obviously has talent, but I can’t see myself giving this more than a high 6, low 7.