Sunday Suggestion – Father John Misty – Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings

Father John Misty is the guise of folk singer/songwriter; Joshua Tillman from Baltimore and is, himself a former member of Fleet Foxes. He’s a great character who often talks of his “Culturally Oppressive” childhood as a result of his Evangelical parents. He’s largely estranged from them but does talk to them annually. A blunt statement that is both refreshing and a little satirical and this is part of his appeal. In 2009 he grew tired of recording as Josh Tillman and wanted a change which he explains “I kind of wanted to confuse people with this ridiculous red herring [and] admittedly patently ridiculous name that’s also phonetically beautifully and looks good in print. Sort of a name I’ve decided to give to this weird, subconscious, dream fragmentation I have of this homosexual, shamanic drifter who bounces around [and] stirs up weird shit in my dreams. Like making out with my brother. So I guess the aggregate of all those things just felt right. But really and truly, the whole thing is just kind of about the fact that it really doesn’t matter what the fuck you call yourself, as long as the goods are in the explicit honesty” Couldn’t have said it better myself. His first album as FJM is 2012’s Fear Fun. It’s kind of oxymoronic itself and aptly the album saw him shift his style fuelled by disillusionment with music and his own songwriting as well as being fuelled by “enough mushrooms to choke a horse” and the petrol that took him along the west coast as he effectively wrote a novel. A song that shines for me is ‘Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings’ which is the most prolific track off the album. I seen him perform it on Sky Arts or whatever and was clearly impressed. The track is evocative of his no nonsense approach both musically and lyrically. The instrumental structure is born out of the highly charged, lazy strikes of his guitar which has it’s echo bounce around the track and take the rigidity out of the sound that is still anchored enough by the stomping percussion and is given glimmers of light with smashes of the tambourine. He’s laid out the song in such a simple way, yet has maximised the potential space created as a result, while still being able to have a solid form and rhythm to latch on to. This allows his vocal and lyrics to shine through too and these are accentuated by the distant, wailing harmonies behind him. I wonder if his parents have listened to him singing ‘Jesus Christ Girl’ repeatedly? You can only smile at the thought of it!

 

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