Father John Misty - I Love You, Honeybear

Trading as a confessional singer-songwriter has been made all the more difficult over the last few years due to the emergence of John Grant and his searingly honest brand of songcraft. Based slightly less in the stark reality of life, I Love You, Honeybear looks at the bar raised by Grant and thinks 'I can do this.' Creator Father John Misty (aka Josh or J. Tillman) shares DNA with Grant; as well as the tones of voice, the similarities in the music and wit of the lyrics are striking: but where Grant is caustic and insecure, Tillman is confident and less scathing. Mostly. Both also share a willingness to liberally sprinkle the f-bomb.

The concept of the album is so meta it hurts: the tales of “Josh Tillman” and his journey from narcissism into love, as told by the real Tillman. It’s not always clear what’s really going on though; sometimes seemingly clear and laced with meaning (“I brought my mother's depression / You've got your father's scorn / And a wayward and schizophrenia”), at other times the Baltimore native is descriptive but it's skin deep (“I found her naked with her best friend in the tub / And we sang Silent Night in three parts which was fun / Until she said that she sounds just like Sarah Vaughan / I hate that soulful affectation white girls put on.”) So you're never really sure where you're at. But this state of confusion is part of the wonder.

However you read it, this is a deep and thoughtful experience. Whether it’s the conversational, soulful ‘When You’re Smiling And Astride Me’; the striking mood set in ‘Strange Encounter’, or the dreamy Nordic electronica of ‘True Affection’, the scope is ambitiously broad, making it all the more surprising that it hits the mark with unerring accuracy. So confident for a second album, I Love you, Honeybear is a fascinating, enthralling experience.

Overall

8

out of 10

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