Father John Misty (real name Josh Tillman) is an American singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. In a little over eight years, Tillman completely reinvented himself and clawed out from the seedy underground scene of neo-folk, with his equally as fantastic J.Tillman records, and became the genre-melding and sardonic force of nature that we now him as today.
With new songs released via label Sub Pop, and having recently launched a successful covers EP for charity entitled Anthem+3, the time has never been better to take a thorough look at who very well could be my favourite musician of all time.
#4 – Fear Fun (2012)
Well, this has been an incredibly difficult decision already. Fear Fun was Misty’s first foray into the eccentric side of L.A. culture and beautifully combined razor sharp wit with gorgeous melodies and groovy rhythms throughout.
The A-side of this album is of particular note. I would go so far as to say that the first six songs on offer here, ranked as some of Misty’s best to this day. Particular highlights include the infectiously catchy Nancy From Now On, the percussion masterclass that rocks all the way through Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings and the nihilistic majesty that is Funtimes in Babylon.
The level of craftsmanship oozes from every facet of this album, it is apparent after only one listen at just how talented Josh Tillman is not only behind a drum kit, or playing acoustic guitar and piano, but with that golden voice of his. It pains me to put his debut at the bottom of the list, but I believe that it only speaks to the quality of what was to come.
#3 – God’s Favourite Customer (2018)
Tillman’s latest record, at time of writing, and one that I consider very near and dear to my heart in many ways. The level of introspection and exploration of darker themes such as loneliness, longing and dependency are contrasted in such a real and eloquent fashion, that it really is a sight to behold.
Some may accuse Josh of playing it safe on this album and, whilst I disagree, I can understand why. GFC is not as groundbreaking as Pure Comedy, nor as bursting with love and passion as I Love You, Honeybear, but when a release is good, it is beyond words. Songs like: Mr Tillman, Date Night, Hangout at the Gallows and Disappointing Diamonds, show that this is Tillman at the top of his game.
#2 – Pure Comedy (2017)
Misty’s longest and perhaps most well known album, Pure Comedy is as well known for its homages to the likes of Elton John and Leonard Cohen, as it is for the misanthropic deconstruction of practically all aspects of life on Earth. This release somehow manages to become more relevant with every passing year, as this extended cut of reality puts its length to masterful use.
Some may say it’s a little too long for its own good, or that it can be preachy, but I am always happy hearing perspectives on the world, especially when they are as well as expressed as: Total Entertainment Forever, A Bigger Paper Bag, Ballad of the Dying Man as well as what I believe to be one of the greatest songs ever written, So I’m Growing Old on Magic Mountain.
#1 – I Love You, Honeybear (2015)
Could it really have been anything else? Tillman’s sophomore album remains his most discussed, fives years on for a reason. Every single track on this record is more blissfully anthemic than the last. A genuine, touching tribute to his wife Emma Tillman, stunningly realised in only 45 minutes.
Where to even start with the standouts here? Strange Encounter, The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment, Bored in the USA, Holy Shit! I don’t quite have the words to accurately summarise just how incredible I think Honeybear really is, there are no low points, It’s all highs all of the time. There just isn’t anything else like it in the world.