Father John Misty Gets in the “Poem Zone” with God’s Favorite Customer

Father John Misty performing

Written by Tristan Olav Torgersen and DJ Andreasen God’s Favorite Customer
Images courtesy of IMDB and Getty Images

T: First off, let’s introduce DJ to the folks of InQua Magazine! We’ve known each other eight years, and the man can slappa da bass, write good content, rack the stats up, and make lists like no one’s business. He previously had a piece published with ESPN 960 and I’m glad he and I got to do this album review!

T: Alright, before we dig in, I’m gonna come out and say it. I really dig this album!

D: I wasn’t sure what to expect from Mr. Tillman coming into this one. While I liked Pure Comedy, it did tend to drag a bit at times. But I’m finding this new record sneaking into my early AOTY list.

T: Oh, I’m on the same page. I loved the first half of Pure Comedy and lost all attention by the second half of it. I’ve listened to God’s Favorite Customer straight for the past two and a half days, and it still feels fresh.

D: I’ve only gotten through it once so far, but have listened to bits and pieces of it off and on since last Friday. Funny enough, I actually listened to Pure Comedy this morning, just so I could have that juxtaposition fresh in my mind for this listening session of God’s Favorite Customer.

T: When we texted, you mentioned that and I did a quick taste of everything from Pure Comedy in addition to 2015’s I Love You, Honeybear, which I loved. Shout out to my boy Jesse for showing me that on a late night summer drive years back. Even beyond what I thought of the new album, I am interested to see how it stacks up in other critics’ eyes and listeners as well. I didn’t know Rolling Stone ranked it at #19 on their top 50 Albums of 2017 list. For me, God’s Favorite Customer is better than Pure Comedy.

D: Pure Comedy was definitely a polarizing project for most fans and critics, at least from what I’ve seen. I saw it pop up towards the top of some year end lists, while it was absent on others. The buzz I’m hearing so far is much more positive towards this latest release.

T: It’s well-deserved. The songs, the composition, the production, I just love it. The way the songs were arranged really took me on a ride of sorts. Being stuck in L.A. traffic was a whole lot more interesting as I waited for what sound and story was coming next. What tracks stood out to you?

D: One track that really stood out to me on my drive home earlier today was “Please Don’t Die.” Lyrically, it’s one of the more personal songs in his whole catalogue. His wife is basically begging him to not die because he’s become so caught up in his struggles with depression and delusion that his impending death seems like a real possibility. Where many tracks on Pure Comedy may have lacked emotion, Tillman’s vocals are full of emotion on this one.

T: Oh totally agree, this was one I have kept going back to. “You’re all that I have, so please don’t die, wherever you are tonight.” The lyrics are so real it made me uncomfortable on the first listen. I was thinking, ‘Is this like some lyrical version of 13 Reasons Why? What is he saying?’ Another listen or two later and I got over the initial confusion. Great song. In terms of emotional songs, I think “Songwriter” won me over. The piano, the simplicity in it, and what he’s saying. “What would it sound like if you were the songwriter?”

D: I think that song seems to be another one from his wife’s perspective. It’s a very interesting concept. Songwriters often use those around them for their material, much like comedians, and so it’s fascinating to think of what it would be like to have those roles reversed. For your partner or friend to use you as a muse, even when the lyrics come out unflattering.

T: Such an interesting dynamic, and something I don’t think about enough when listening to music. This album is so shaped by his wife and their relationship, that is partly what makes it so much more accessible and engaging than Pure Comedy like you said. “Just Dumb Enough to Try” was another one I really got attached to. The lyrics, the strings and piano, all of it. “But I’m just dumb enough to try, To keep you in my life, For a little while longer.” This is soul purging. This is baring all.

D: He really allows himself to be vulnerable on this record, especially that track. Sometimes it takes a lot for someone to admit their flaws in such a format, especially someone who has as big of an ego as Josh Tillman can have at times.

T: Exactly, and it felt so freeing to kind of live through the tracks and grasp the feelings he’s sharing in the songs. As well, I love the lyricism and poetry of it. “Last night I wrote a poem, man I must have been in the poem zone.” I mean, that’s replayed in my head over and over today haha.

D: I wonder what it’s like in the poem zone…

T: I hope the lights are dim, the drinks are cold, and everyone speaks in whispers.

D: There’s really no other way to describe the poem zone than what you just said.

Father John Misty, courtesy of IMDB
Welcome to the Poem Zone. I am your host, Father John Misty. Take a seat or don’t, just have a good damn time.
Thanks IMDB.

T: I feel like we need to make a disclaimer, maybe I just do. Father John Misty is not the kind of artist you can just toss to someone and say, ‘listen to this guy, he’s great.’ I feel like he can be hard to get to at first. At least, with many of my friends I’ve tried to show him to they just didn’t grasp his music. JPP, I’m talking about you my TSwift loving friend.

D: He’s definitely not for everyone. But if you’re a fan of music that is more lyric focused then Father John Misty may be worth your time.

T: I feel like this has been one of the best albums I’ve enjoyed this year, alongside releases from James Bay, Leon Bridges, Bahamas, and George Ezra. Where does this album fall on your top albums of 2018 list?

D: 2018 has been such a packed year and we’re not even half way through the year and my list is already running out of room. Taking a look at my 2018 list so far though, I see this hovering around my top 10 right now but it could definitely creep up a few spots as I listen to it a few more times throughout the rest of 2018.

Listen to and Buy the Album on BandCamp, OR
Listen here!

Some final notes and links!

To see what DJ is listening to: Last.FM
Or to see what he’s spinning: Instagram – Deej Records

From the BandCamp Description for Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer:

“Written largely in New York between summer 2016 and winter 2017, Josh Tillman’s fourth Father John Misty LP, God’s Favorite Customer, reflects on the experience of being caught between the vertigo of heartbreak and the manic throes of freedom.

God’s Favorite Customer reveals a bittersweetness and directness in Tillman’s songwriting, without sacrificing any of his wit or taste for the absurd. From “Mr. Tillman,” where he trains his lens on his own misadventure, to the cavernous pain of estrangement in “Please Don’t Die,” Tillman plays with perspective throughout to alternatingly hilarious and devastating effect. “We’re Only People (And There’s Not Much Anyone Can Do About That)” is a meditation on our inner lives and the limitations we experience in our attempts to give and receive love. It stands in solidarity with the title track, which examines the ironic relationship between forgiveness and sin. Together, these are songs that demand to know either real love or what comes after, and as the album progresses, that entreaty leads to discovering the latter’s true stakes.

God’s Favorite Customer was produced by Tillman and recorded with Jonathan Rado (Foxygen), Dave Cerminara (Jonathan Wilson, Foster the People, Conor Oberst), and Trevor Spencer (FJM). The album features contributions from Haxan Cloak, Natalie Mering of Weyes Blood, longtime collaborator Jonathan Wilson, and members of Misty’s touring band.”

The album was released June 1st, 2018.

Here’s another music video for the single “Mr. Tillman”: