For those of us who thought we had come to know what Josh Tillman was about as a songwriter and musician over the course of his growing output as J. Tillman, it was decidedly shocking. There was Tillman on Letterman, preening, posing, and daring you to take him seriously while he performed “Only Son of the Ladies’ Man” this past spring. The well-bearded, long-haired creator of songs of unquestionable beauty (if also at times crushing sadness) had received a serious haircut and a shave, and seemed to be enjoying himself very much in the guise of this new alter-ego. But that wasn’t it, either.
In fact, as Tillman told us, it was the other way around: Father John Misty as arbitrary a label as any to help him escape the creative confines he insists his earlier material had trapped him within. What’s resulted from Tillman’s distancing himself from his birth name is, ironically enough, a more true and accurate portrayal of the man, whose wry, sardonic sense of humor shines through on Fear Fun. Sonically the record feels informed by Tillman’s new L.A. (specifically, Laurel Canyon) address. It’s breezy and psychedelic with an occasional twang, the ghosts of Harry Nilsson and Gram Parsons not so far off in the absurdist tales.
Audio: Steven Kray with technical assistance from Randy Layton
Video production: Jarratt Taylor, John Rosman
Executive Producer: David Christensen