Arts in Review

Father John Misty returns with a stronger Messiah complex



In God’s Favorite Customer, his most recent album, singer-songwriter Josh Tillman, also known as Father John Misty, elaborates on his tumultuous journey to fame and his repressed childhood growing up in the Christian town of Rockville, Maryland. Carrying over with the religious zeal from Pure Comedy, his preceding album, Tillman explores philosophical questions about humanity and God through a sincere and heartfelt performance. However, God’s Favorite Customer brings an alternative rock sound to Father John Misty’s music compared to the folk-blues tracks found on Pure Comedy. Nevertheless, most songs on the new album still retain a melodic piano accompaniment, which supplements Tillman’s raspy vocals.

The 10-track LP tells the story of a man in search of spiritual wellness, and how materialistic prosperity does not guarantee happiness. The song “God’s Favorite Customer” after which the album was named reveals Tillman’s personal struggles in choosing a career and in understanding the role of religion in his life. Tillman manages to grab his audience’s attention by posing these universal dilemmas. Before pursuing music, Tillman considered becoming a pastor, and consequently put all of his energy into following the tenets of his Pentecostal faith.

After listening to the entirety of God’s Favorite Customer I felt as though I had taken an introspective philosophy class. As the trajectory of the album exhibits, Tillman rediscovers his desire for spirituality through music and love. What makes this album unique is Tillman’s excessive narcissism which is displayed through his frank lyrics. One song is even named after himself, “Mr. Tillman,” and it highlights the personal crisis he endured in the middle of producing this album.

After listening to the first couple of tracks I immediately felt drawn into the anxieties and disappointments that Tillman describes in regards to being a songwriter. Despite being gifted with the ability to make music, Tillman feels as though he has lost out on romantic love, which might be the opposite of what his listeners expect. In “Just Dumb Enough To Try” he unpacks how obnoxious being a musician can be when you unsuccessfully try to serenade your lover. Like the majority of Father John Misty’s songs, “Just Dumb Enough To Try” carries with it a sarcastic and witty tone as Tillman reflects on his personal successes and failures.

In a general overview of God’s Favorite Customer, the album reveals Father John Misty’s reflective and wistful aspirations as an artist. Marked by volatile experiences and emotions, Josh Tillman shares his life story through candid lyrics and irregular melodies. Through unpacking each track, it becomes evident that Father John Misty attempts to connect with his listeners on an intimate level, especially as he details his romantic relationships and religious convictions.

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