Joshua Tillman moved from his hometown in Maryland to Seattle, Washington when he was 21 years old to pursue a career in music. After opening for Pacific Northwest artists like Damien Jurado and establishing himself as a solo act, J. Tillman found himself a band in 2008. Tillman was the drummer of Fleet Foxes from their start in 2008 until 2012. Tillman went on to release his first album under the moniker Father John Misty in May of 2012 titled Fear Fun. After receiving rave reviews for his Sub Pop debut, J. Tillman fans could hardly wait for what whatever was next.
Tillman released his second album as Father John Misty in early 2015 titled I Love You, Honeybear. The release gives listeners the familiar songwriting and lyricism to be expected from J. Tillman, and while some tracks are in the same vein as the Fear Fun release, many songs offer a new style not heard from Tillman before.
The album starts off with the title track “I Love You, Honeybear” where Tillman provides somewhat of a theme song to his personal life. This track really resonates with the sound of his first release that everyone wanted more of.
Tillman follows up with new, more electronic tracks like “True Affection” that almost channels a sound reminiscent of The Postal Service. Keeping up with his reputation for quirk and charm, Tillman chooses eccentric track titles for I Love You, Honeybear like “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” and “The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apartment.”
While touring for Fear Fun, Tillman revealed more about his writing process for his FJM debut and how he wrote the album in collaboration with a novel about his life. For I Love You, Honeybear, he takes a similar approach in a way by giving his listeners a more personal collection of pieces from his love journals that could be about past relationships, his wife, or maybe no one real at all.
“When You’re Smiling And Astride Me” is one of the classic love ballads on this record and one of the better songs on the album. “Strange Encounter” is also one of the best tracks with an ethereal and swaying music setting for Tillman to take the chorus to emotionally charged vocal highs and proclaim “at least we’ll go on livin’” as a difficult story from his past is perhaps relived.
Another single that Tillman released before the full release of I Love You, Honeybear, was “Bored In The USA” which is a fantastically blunt and honest interpretation of the world we live in. Tillman says “they gave me a useless education, a sub-prime loan, a craftsman home” and “save me President Jesus, just a little bored in the USA” as sarcastic laugh tracks round play in the background.
Overall, I Love You, Honeybear is a wonderful sophomore follow-up to Fear Fun and J. Tillman’s career as Father John Misty is in its prime.
Recommended If You Like: Fleet Foxes, Damien Jurado, The Decemberists
Recommended Tracks: 7 (Strange Encounter), 9 (Bored In The USA), 5 (When You’re Smiling and Astride Me), 3 (True Affection), 4 (The Night Josh Tillman Came To Our Apt)