First published in The Big Issue, May 2018
Josh Tillman’s fourth album as Father John Misty is a bookend to his second, near-identical in terms of style but worlds apart in tone. Where I Love You, Honeybear documented an engulfing, darkly passionate and pleasurable new love, God’s Favourite Customer captures that same love on the brink of collapse. The first single, Mr Tillman, is something of a red herring; an outside-in view of a dilettante rock star on a Hunter S. Thompson trip. It’s a great tune but unambitious for Tillman; we’ve heard this ironic self-awareness a thousand times before. The real heart-aching beauty of this album comes from tunes like Please Don’t Die, The Palace and The Songwriter. Vulnerable, knocked from the perch of his perfectly superior romance, Tillman is left turning over the ashes of his certainty, asking questions it is too late to answer. ‘What would it sound like if you were the songwriter…would you undress me repeatedly in public to show how very noble and naked you can be?’ he sings. But now suddenly, the irony is gone, and what is left is lovely.