Seattle’s Zach Tillman is Pearly Gate Music, and the denizens of heaven must be fairly miserable if these are the anthems trumpeted at the door. Somebody needs to drop by Tillman’s place with some Prozac, stat.

Then again, being a former member of Siberian, the man is no stranger to the melancholy and sublime. On his solo debut, Tillman shows that he can stand his own ground, often venturing boldly into some dark territory armed only with his acoustic guitar.  

The album lurches to a start with the sparse opener “Golden Funeral,” which displays his poetic prowess. “Big Escape” picks up the momentum, lo-fi acoustic guitar and tinkling keys accenting the sweetness of a chorus that disintegrates into a wash of guitar feedback.

“Navy Blues”’ gentle acoustic backdrop serves its innocent lyrics well and, along with “Daddy Wrote You Letters,” hearkens back to folk recordings of the ’60s. “Oh, What a Time!” offers an abrupt mood swing, catchy and fun, while “I Woke Up” shows Tillman’s striking ability to conjure up the most intense emotion in the understated, touches of magic sprinkled throughout like glitter.  

“Gossamer Hair” is a standout, beginning as a sweet tale of awkward love that morphs into a raging beast with Tillman shrieking “Oh! I’m an animal don’t tell anybody you saw the state I’m in!” over abruptly aggressive guitars and heartbeat- pounding-against-your-ribcage drums. I’d like to see him explore this direction more, and this song hopefully gives an indication of great things to come.

The album hits a bump with “I Was a River” and “Bad Nostalgia” which fall into the category of hokey-ness that I just can’t stomach. Luckily, “Rejoice” is a brilliant conclusion, stunningly gorgeous yet not without its thorn, it plays like a hymn for the dejected derelict at the end of his tether.

Grade: B

Pearly Gate Music is currently available.