Introduction:

Josh Tillman has had a storied career. His career began in 2008, when he simultaneously launched his solo career as J. Tillman and became the drummer of Fleet Foxes. In 2008, he signed with Fargo Records and released three albums: Cancer and DeleriumLong May You Run, J. Tillman, and I Will Return. The trilogy of releases came just as he started with Fleet Foxes. He switched to In 2009, he released his albums Vacilando Territory Blues and Year in the Kingdom, before retiring the J. Tillman moniker in 2010 with the release of Singing Ax. In 2012, Tillman announced his departure from Fleet Foxes and released his first album under the new moniker of Father John Misty: Fear Fun. He followed that up in 2015 with I Love You, Honeybear. In 2017, he released his album Pure Comedy. He and his wife split up for several weeks and Tillman moved into a hotel, where he began writing new songs and quickly complied a new album, which was release June 1, 2018: God’s Favorite Customer

1. Hangout at the Gallows

The melancholy, smokey vocals echo beautifully in the first track of the record. The poetic lyricism paints a picture of Tillman’s pain after the split. The vocals and arrangement of instruments is very well done. It’s a very poetic and beautiful song and a great start for what’s sure to be a great album.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

2. Mr. Tillman

The acoustic guitars and chimes instantly set up a different song than what we just got. The song is a great story song. Painting a portrait of Tillman checking into the hotel and staying there while working through his grief, which is heavily implied to be substance abuse. The production and songwriting are outstanding. It’s definitely one of the best songs of the year.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

3. Just Dumb Enough to Try

The piano driven ballad gives Tillman a chance to show off his voice. The production here continues to keep up its excellence. Meanwhile, Tillman’s heartbreaking lyricism is strong. Dealing with his conflicted reasoning and desire to keep his wife in his life, Tillman continues to paint a melancholy picture of heartache and loss.

Track Rating: 9/10

Grade: A

4. Date Night

The production is much more upbeat as the drums, acoustic guitar, and pianos drive home a happy vibe. Tillman presents a time when he was dating, either flashing back to his first date with his wife, or an attempt to bounce back after the split. My guess would be the former. It’s a well-written tune and well-produced, but not the strongest one on the effort.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A-

5. Please Don’t Die

Tillman actually details a suicidal depression he was in over the split and pleads with himself, via his wife, to not commit suicide. It’s a haunting song that either shows what caused the split or what he’s feeling as a result of it. Either way, it’s a haunting song that’s very well-written and well-produced. The acoustic guitars and slow, melancholy vibe really build the atmosphere. It’s in contention for my favorite song from the record and for song of the year.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

6. The Palace

The sad pianos are beautiful. The substance abuse implications are confirmed in this song, as well as how long he’s been away from his wife. The song is really gentle and beautiful, as he talks about how much he misses her, so far as to refer to the hotel as “the palace,” which was her nickname for it. It’s very well-crafted lyrically and the productions simple, yet extremely effective. It’s an outstanding song.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

7. Disappointing Diamonds Are the Rarest of Them All

The more upbeat and fast-paced song talks about true love and the desire to return to his wife. It’s very well-produced and arranged. The songwriting is solid still. It’s really the production that’s outstanding on this one.

Track Rating: 8/10

Grade: A

8. God’s Favorite Customer

The slower, harmonic production (that uses harmonicas and woodwinds) is just stellar. The atmosphere is just outstanding. The story song follows a drugged up and lonely Tillman strung out as he begs for the angels to speak to him. It’s gorgeously produced and the songwriting is meticulous and superb. It’s the climax of the album as he comes to terms with everything he’s been struggling with this record. The additional vocals that emulate the angelic chorus is perfect. This is a masterpiece song.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

9. The Songwriter

The melancholy follow-up is very existential and beautiful. The piano driven ballad ponders the idea of what the music would sound like if the roles were reversed, if his wife were the songwriter. It’s tragic as he comes to terms with the separation of him and wife. The vocals are chilling and the production echoes his pain. It’s a heartbreaking and beautiful song. It’s another masterpiece song.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

10. We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)

The electric guitars ring out for a final statement as the album concludes with the moral of Tillman’s story. His vocals ring out over the melancholy, introspective music as he ponders human nature. The songwriting is outstanding as he wishes the world well as he says see you later. It’s a perfect finale for this masterpiece album.

Track Rating: 10/10

Grade: A+

Conclusion:

This album emulates 70s blues rock while also being completely original. Father John Misty paints a raw, honest portrait of loss, heartache, pain, depression, and hope. It really has a narrative arch as we watch his journey over the few weeks away from his wife. We watch his separation, the beginning of his misery, his desperation for normalcy,  his nostalgic reminiscing of good times, his suicidal slump, his compliance with her wishes, his return to pained wishing, his outcry for love from a higher power, his realization of empathy, and finally, his call for the world to take heed of his words and story and what comes next. It’s a masterpiece of raw emotion and storytelling from a place of hurt and a place of hope. This is easily one of the best albums of the year.

Album Rating: 9.4/10

Grade: A+

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