Track Review: “Mr. Tillman” by Father John Misty

Anyone who knows me well can confirm my laundry list of concerts attended, from all manner of genres. I won’t give you an exhaustive list, but I’ve hit triple digits, and spent somewhere in the realm of a fortune on tickets. In recent memory, nothing has mystified me like Father John Misty’s Malkin Bowl show last May.

Though I was initially disappointed by FJM’s last outing, “Pure Comedy” the record grew on me over time, and songs I despised on first listen still reside in my rotation today. But it wasn’t until I saw “Pure Comedy” performed live until I realized it’s true majesty. The eccentric folk icon commanded the crowd like some kind of amalgamation of Dylan, Prince, and Cohen; Tillman’s political musings had all of Stanley Park hanging on every word. If there was ever a show that deserved to be coined ‘unforgettable,’ this was it.

Fast forward a few months and Misty announced that he would deliver his follow up in 2018, an unprecedented turn around for an established and busy artist like himself. The announcement had me excited to see the next leap forward for the songwriter.

Unfortunately after several listens to this new single, “Mr. Tillman” hasn’t exactly stoked the fires of excitement for his fourth record. Gone are the scathing political lashes that made “Pure Comedy” so special, instead returning to a more insular examination of Josh Tillman’s self destructive tendencies. Though self deprecation isn’t new to Misty, the songwriter paints himself facing a potential personal crisis; entertaining, but also tired material.

“Mr. Tillman” upon first listen isn’t among Misty’s best work, it’s not remotely bad by any means, and rests somewhere in the middle. If you’re a fan of folk music, or have penchant for storytelling there’s absolutely something to love here.

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