Call for Essays About Any Aspect of Popular Culture, Present or Past

Music
cover art

J. Tillman

Vacilando Territory Blues

(Western Vinyl; US: 27 Jan 2009; UK: 26 Jan 2009)

There’s more interest in this release now that the singer-songwriter is playing with Fleet Foxes, but it turns out J. Tillman has been making music for quiet some time. Vacilando Territory Blues is Tillman’s fifth solo album; while his previous records have a determinedly insular tone, this latest ventures a hesitant step towards his new band’s gorgeous harmony. It’s only a glimpse—most of the time, J. Tillman is trafficking in skeletal, fractured interpretations of traditional American songforms—blues in particular. The best of this material (“Vessels”, e.g.) is arresting in its stark simplicity—a voice, one or two chords arpeggiated on guitar, little else. The album’s centrepiece is “Barter Blues”, a sprawling, seven-minute song that patiently builds through the addition of low cello drone and twittering banjo. The album becomes more noticeably devotional towards the end (“Above All Men”, for example, intones “We are blessed, lest we forget”). A serious, small album from a singer-songwriter we should probably be paying more attention to.

Rating:

Dan Raper has been writing about music for PopMatters since 2005. Prior to that he did the same thing for his college newspaper and for his school newspaper before that. Of course he also writes fiction, though his only published work is entitled "Gamma-secretase exists on the plasma membrane as an intact complex that accepts substrates and effects intramembrane cleavage". He is currently studying medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia.


Media

J. Tillman - "Barter Blues" (Live @ the AB, Brussels)
Related Articles
24 Sep 2009
Tillman swells these songs up enough to show that his sound is bigger than himself, always reaching out to us, inviting us to feel the pressing hope in the spaces between lonesome chords.
Comments
Now on PopMatters
PM Picks
Announcements

© 1999-2014 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters.com™ and PopMatters™ are trademarks
of PopMatters Media, Inc.

PopMatters is wholly independently owned and operated.