Father John Misty
(New Orleans, LA)
Josh Tillman has lived many lives. The singer-songwriter has been a defiant child of God, a broke dishwasher, a successful drummer, a Dionysian shaman, a failed poet, a drug-hoovering spiritualist, and a gleeful prankster. Now, he’s a man with one of 2015’s most compelling albums.
By 21 he was J. Tillman, a depressed acoustic panel-maker. By 27, in 2008, he'd made six austere solo albums before morphing into Josh Tillman, the Fleet Foxes’ invisible and irreconcilable drummer. In 2012, he split from the Foxes, releasing his first album as Father John Misty, a far more adventurous effort than his earlier offerings hinted at. At the same time, he started indulging in promotional chicanery, selling the ‘Innocence’ men’s fragrance on his website, giving operatically goofy interviews and pulling mock-jerk stunts to promote his 2015 album I Love You, Honeybear.
A huckster of the highest order, Tillman's pranks would be enough to obscure the talents of a lesser songwriter. But Honeybear's strengths aren't easily hid. Tillman's songs don't so much straddle the line between cynicism and romanticism as they destroy that line outright, combining sun-drenched Laurel Canyon compositions with droll humour and soaring sentimentality. It's archly detached and soul-searingly confessional—all those many lives lived, reconciled into one larger-than-life character.