by Rose Blanton
The sophomore album from Josh Tillman, goes by Father John Misty, is a soulful realization that yes you have fallen in love. Sometime between his first LP and now, Tillman met a woman named Emma, fell in love and got married. The majority of this album is made up of love songs in different veins. Some of the songs have incredulous verbiage of the fact that one has fallen in love (“When You’re Are Smiling And Astride Me”). While others sing of how falling in love has brought about a renewal (“Chateau Lobby 4”).
Tillman produced this album at Five Stars Studio with the help of Jonathan Wilson who also worked on Fear Fun. Wilson is responsible for the resurgence of the Laurel Canyon sound (Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young). Five Stars studio is a popular choice for many folk musicians due to the plethora of analog equipment. Tube amps anyone? As on his previous album Tillman and Wilson did a bang up job sound production wise.
The album opens up with the title track “I Love You, Honeybear” and sets the tone for the rest of the album. The sound of the song has that twangy, raw folkys sound that Tillman loves so much. The lyrics are simultaneously hilarious and insight.”You’re bent over the altar and the neighbors are complaining / That the misanthropes next door are probably conceiving a Damien / Don’t they see the darkness rising? Good luck fingering oblivion.”
The second track “Chateau Lobby 4,” my personal favorite, talks about how the discovery of this new love is so profound it’s akin to being a virgin. It’s accompanied with some fantastic horns and maracas that give it a Latino flare, but trust me, you’ll be prancing around and singing along in no time. The third track, “True Affection” is a synth pop song that I think is supposed to be a joke. He’s using this genre, which has saturated the airwaves to also make a comment on how we communicate. “When can we talk with a Face?/ Instead of using all these strange devices.”
“When You’re Smiling And Astride Me” is a soulful melody that Tillman uses to express how he can barely believe he’s found this incredible woman. It’s truly beautiful and definitely some serious baby making music. His combination of harmonious backup singers and sexy guitar hit Mo Town on the head.
“Bored In The USA” and “Holy Shit” are both tracks that could have also fit on Fear Fun. Both are commentaries on society and how we function/where we’re heading. The cadence of both songs is much in the vein on ole Bobby Dylan. The song writing is genius.
The closing track is about how Tillman met sweet Emma and it also gives nodes to the previous album. He speaks of seven daughters on this track. On Fear Fun when he sings of the death of the ladies man, he also sings of seven women. Perhaps we have a little trilogy unfolding in our mist. The only problem: Fear Fun is a strange combination of a prequel and a sequel. I guess that’s what happens when you write a record high on psilocybin mushrooms.
Father John Misty always takes a few listens before you become a true fan but I think this is a sign of his intelligence. It’s not easily swallowed on the first bite, but I promise the more you listen the more you’ll love it. Folk, soul, and pop are the three main sounds happening on this album and painted on top are the most intelligent lyrics I’ve heard in a long, long time. I think Josh Tillman is the Dylan of our generation and I’m so glad he’s fallen in love.
Release date: February 10, 2015