J. TILLMAN > A Year in the Kingdom

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Videos by American Songwriter

J. TILLMAN

A Year in the Kingdom

(WESTERN VINYL)

[Rating: 4 stars]

A common question: “Who the heck is J. Tillman?” Answer: Well, he’s Fleet Foxes drummer and, believe it or not, A Year in the Kingdom is his sixth (that’s right, sixth) album since 2004. Tillman has toured alongside Damien Jurado and David Bazan and despite touring as a member of one of the hottest indie acts today, he’s able to keep cranking out the solo records. Heralded as the folk minimalist’s most joyful record to date, A Year in the Kingdom is still no party-starter. Often compared with other solemn stalwarts like Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, Nick Drake, and Mark Kozelek, Tillman’s cryptic songwriting is both soothing and eerie. His ability to create a peaceful, yet surreal, reverence in the mystery of his songs is augmented by the carefully chosen and sparsely utilized arrangements that include dulcimer, banjo, air organs, and hand claps. Biblical and death-oriented imagery give Tillman an aura of gentle authority, as he softly creates a mood of ancient wisdom and finality. After recognizing this fellow’s mystically rugged songcraft and delivery in A Year in the Kingdom, it doesn’t take long to see how he fits so well with the Fleet Foxes crew (and maybe why they’re so good).

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