By Yasmin Ettobi
It’s hard for celebrities to keep any sort of mysterious persona in modern society. With the ease of oversharing on social media and the constant questioning of fans, being famous unfortunately comes with the heavy baggage of placing your entire self in the spotlight. Though it’s difficult, singer/songwriter Josh Tillman does a great job of keeping his personal life, personal. Residing only on Facebook, his lack of online presence leaves fans in the dark to his thoughts and whereabouts.
This is why it’s so surprising that throughout his fourth record under the alias Father John Misty, Tillman leaves himself naked and vulnerable throughout. God’s Favorite Customer contains some of the most straightforward and heartbreaking tracks listeners have ever heard from him. As a man who usually expresses emotion through puzzling metaphors and anecdotes, the utter simplicity of God’s Favorite Customer is what sets it apart from the rest of Father John Misty’s discography.
On I Love You, Honeybear, Tillman declared his love for his wife with lyrics such as,
“I’ve got nothing to hide from you / Kissing my brother in my dreams / And finding God knows what in my jeans,”
Now, on God’s Favorite Customer, Tillman cries out in the track “Please Don’t Die,”
“You’re all that I have / So please don’t die / Wherever you are tonight.”
Misty mirrors these passionate lyrics with equally as emotive vocals on cuts such as “Just Dumb Enough To Try” and “The Palace.”
With one of the most distinct voices in the indie-folk community, Tillman holds nothing back on God’s Favorite Customer. His soaring falsetto, subtle vibrato, and crooning tone all convey the hurt, confusion, and cutting sadness that he appears to be feeling in almost every song on the album.
Themes of depression and hopelessness are two of the most common off of God’s Favorite Customer, in fact, it’s what ties the record together as one cohesive unit.There’s an overlying sense of the steady decline of Tillman’s mental health and relationship, and he’s painfully aware of this. He tells himself on the track “Disappointing Diamonds are the Rarest of Them All,”
“Disappointing Diamonds are the rarest of them all / And a love that lasts forever really can’t be that special,”
It’s as if he’s reassuring himself that there’s a reasonable explanation for the overwhelming anguish he feels in his relationship.
Though dressed in dollops of despair, there’s no lack of the lyrical sharpness and wit that Father John Misty is known for on God’s Favorite Customer. No song does this as well as the record’s leading single, “Mr. Tillman,” where he voices a hotel concierge, and expresses his increasing concern for Tillman’s strange and questionable antics throughout the establishment. With a darkly glossy instrumental embellished with smooth harmonies, “Mr. Tillman” is Father John Misty at his most hilarious and self-aware.
Tillman’s previous two releases, I Love You, Honeybear and Pure Comedy, were both considered concept albums, one about his thriving, unconventional relationship with his wife and the other revolving around the ‘Human Condition’ and what would act as the downfall of our species as we know it. Instead of following them with another bombastic, symbolic piece of art, Father John Misty travels back to his singer/songwriter roots, and creates a record furnished with beautiful piano ballads, somber yet memorable melody lines, and an overall window into the true feelings of his inner-self. Though it may not be the Father John Misty that listeners fell in love with in the first place, God’s Favorite Customer is a record that one could easily grow to adore.
Listen to God’s Favorite Customer below!