Nowadays Josh (aka J.) Tillman might best be known as the man behind the kit for Seattle’s Fleet Foxes, but don’t let his drumming fool you. Long before the Foxes ever harmonized a hymnal, Tillman was already well on his way to solo indie rock stardom. As a singer, songwriter, and jack-of-all-instruments, Tillman has released a whopping seven albums in the past five years, with each recording somehow trumping the one that came before. This September, Tillman will unveil his eighth album to date, the beautifully minimalist Year in the Kingdom. Carried by soft but deliberate vocals, Kingdom cuts right to the core of the folk music movement with songs that are heartfelt, honest, and unpretentious. Throughout, Tillman’s voice calls to mind everyone from Nick Drake to Sea Change-era Beck, but never loses its raw vulnerability, thanks to some purposeful and well-placed piano, cymbals, and dulcimer work.
“I’m mostly drawn to flawed music,” he explained. “I wanted people to be able to hear the space between the arrangements. Musicianship typically doesn’t really inspire me. I like songwriters whose music is transformed because of some element beyond their ability.”