J. Tillman

6 Jun

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with J. Tillman, the Seattle-based songwriter with a melancholic voice and American Gothic disposition…and more facial hair. “Steel on Steel” 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 it’s the perfect antidote to that Peugot Sound Gray.

Original Post (5/25/05):
In his bio, J. Tillman’s music is described as “reminiscent 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 O’ Connor expert. And in her riveting (I’m being serious here) talks and my own reading of O’Connor, I’d have to say that the beauty of Flannery’s words are in their buoyancy, their ability to turn cruel and unusual characters into tragicomic heroes. Not that J. Tillman doesn’t show potential for that kind of greatness, but if we’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. I’d throw in Will Oldham (Palace, Bonnie “Prince” Billy) and Iron & Wine. The whistling on “My Waking Days” is particularly haunting.

Steel on Steel [MP3, 5.5MB, 160kbps]
Evans and Falls [MP3, 5.8MB, 192kbps]
Ribbons of Glass [MP3, 7.1MB, 192kbps]
When I Light Your Darkened Door [MP3, 7MB, 192kbps]

  • Squashed Lemon

    hey, I've been listening to lots of 'folks' and accoustic lately. This aftr months of loud electric.
    what I am wondering. what is the direction of current folks music. Is it just pastiche, redoing the 60's Or is there something really different?
    The sound I am looking for, sophisticated/gentle rythm brought in from Jazz (alal DeJohnette), accoustic (anything really), voice (great lyrics is a must)
    … anything interesting in folks genre out there? aside from re-doing Johny Cash/Tim Buckley?

  • Jeff Koch

    Try Hem, both of their albums are folky and great. Sally Ellyson (sp.?) has a great voice and there is a great story behind how the band started.

  • http://www.yuppiepunk.org YuppiePunk

    Wow, this guy rules. Thanks for turning me on to him… And that Agee book sounds great too — gonna have to read it…..

  • Eric Murphy

    I don't think there's anything 'new' in this kind of music; that's not a bad thing, though, as it's a venerable tradition — good lyrics, good strumming, a singer who sings it like he means it. What more could you want? This dude hits the spot.

  • Franklin

    This is some moving music. Just discovered that his first CD with Keep is sold out and a new CD is coming out soon. Awesome!

  • Kid Kit

    Is there any way to get my hands on "I will return"? Its cruelty to end with just 100 copies of the album. While there are comparisons of Josh Tillman to other artistes, I think he sounds his own.
    As for the first post, 'folk' may sometimes seem pedestrian and tired. But like the human experiences the songs are about, each is nuanced, shaded differently to catch a reflection of it.

  • Bib

    Kid Kit….my thougths exactly. I unexpectedly stumble upon this wonderful music and after some digging, find out there's only 100 copies and they're all sold out?! Any way I can get a burn from someone? I'd be more than happy to put money in Josh's pockets but I've tried emailing him and my email bounced.

  • Revrat

    Both of his Early CDr's are being re-released in unlimited formats in the fall per the website at keep