Slowcoustic Essentials – J. Tillman

Whatever you want to call him or do call him – “J. Tillman”, “Josh Tillman”, “Tills”, “J.T.” – he is still the pinnacle of the hushed singer songwriter, period.  This is why J. Tillman is ultimately deserving of being essential listening to those who enjoy Slowcoustic style music.

J. Tillman has been on the scene for a few years, longer than most think, but overall not that long for the amount of material released.  So 5 years or so I would think from his first release to today.  Despite what Wikipedia currently says about the releases they do range over more than the last couple of years, see below:

    • I Will Return (2008) LP/Digital Release – ORIGINALLY 2004/5 on KEEP Recordings
    • Long May You Run, J. Tillman (2008) Digital Release – ORIGINALLY 2005/6 on KEEP Recordings
    • Minor Works (2008) LP/Digital Release – ORIGINALLY 2006 on Fargo Records
    • Documented (2006) Tour EP
    • Cancer & Delirium (2008) LP/Digital Release – ORIGINALLY 2007 on YerBird
    • Isle Land DVD EP (2008) – technically not a release, but a 4 track “EP” from VTB
    • Vacilando Territory Blues (January 2009)

There has been a bit of an “all over the map” impression left in the wake of Tillman’s many label switches.  Who knows what it may be due to, either getting larger and needing different labels, poaching from label to label – whatever.  Regardless, for the most part everything is readily available via iTunes for the last 4 releases (thank you Autumn Tone).  All are hugely recommended (obviously) and if you can pick up a physical copy of “I Will Return” and send it to me that would be great – it is the only album I don’t have both mp3 and CD copy of.  I unfortunately learned of the whispering acoustics of Josh Tillman just prior to the release of his sophomoric release “Long May You Run, J. Tillman” and missed my chance at getting his debut “I Will Return” in physical media.  I ended up just barely getting my hands on a numbered copy of his second release via the now defunct KEEP Recordings.  It was hard enough getting your copy of a “pre-order” from KEEP Recordings in those days.

While I will have my personal favourites, you absolutely cannot live without his first two releases and they come highly recommended – if not for “Lilac Hem” from “I Will Return” and “Casualties” from “Long May You Run, J. Tillman” alone.  Both are classic dark room, lonely troubadour recordings and this is what drew me to his music and keeps me coming back.  Strong lyrics, almost all-breath vocals and a lone single acoustic guitar.  Tillman might be the reason I latched onto the singer songwriter genre and have become one with it the last few years.

Video love for Tillman with the only “official” video of “Seven States Across” along with a great live performance of “Darling Night” in Barcelona.

You can’t miss by taking advantage of Western Vinyl’s release of “Vacilando Territory Blues” this week, so make sure you order a copy, don’t just sit there with the digital copy – order the CD.  Yes, order the CD in hopes that you one day will sit back one early morning in the fall, sink deep into your chair and hear the subtle beauty of Josh’s incredible creations.  Just to make sure you pick up the new release – enjoy a few samples right here: Steel On Steel & James Blues and Masters House (live on KEXP).

Below are a few live performance rips, album versions, and also a favourite in a rare-ish track “Slow Burn”.  There are many more out there and don’t get me started on the tracks that have come through his MySpace player over the years that have not officially surfaced…always something to look forward to, and with that I wait patiently.

You can (and go on , go now) visit him on his: Website, MySpace & Label Page(s) here, here, here and here.


p.s.  I believe he joined the band Fleet Foxes recently, just a fyi.  ;-)