Itâ€™s been a while since weâ€™ve checked in with J. Tillman, the Seattle-based songwriter with a melancholic voice and American Gothic dispositionâ€¦and more facial hair. â€œSteel on Steelâ€ is a pretty and melodic ditty that may not be the most summery of songs in the other 49, but you get the feeling that itâ€™s the perfect antidote to that Peugot Sound Gray.
Original Post (5/25/05):
In his bio, J. Tillmanâ€™s music is described as â€œreminiscent of the southern-gothic writings of Flannery O’Connor and the music of Nick Drake and Pete Seeger.” Now, my mother-in-law, aside from being the quickest wit in the South and a darn fine cook (her secret: butter, lots and lots of butter), is a bit of a Flannery Oâ€™ Connor expert. And in her riveting (Iâ€™m being serious here) talks and my own reading of Oâ€™Connor, Iâ€™d have to say that the beauty of Flanneryâ€™s words are in their buoyancy, their ability to turn cruel and unusual characters into tragicomic heroes. Not that J. Tillman doesnâ€™t show potential for that kind of greatness, but if weâ€™re going with Southern literary archetypes, the somber tone Tillman sets is much closer to James Agee, who painted profoundly delicate pictures of heartbreak. Tillman does, however, get it right with comparisons to Drake and Seeger. Iâ€™d throw in Will Oldham (Palace, Bonnie “Prince” Billy) and Iron & Wine. The whistling on â€œMy Waking Daysâ€ is particularly haunting.