Track Review | Father John Misty, ‘Ballad of the Dying Man’
Father John Misty continues to build anticipation for his third studio album, ‘Pure Comedy.’ “Ballad of the Dying Man” is a superb, socially-driven record.
Father John Misty (Josh Tillman) is a genius. His forthcoming album, Pure Comedy, should be remarkable. His single, “Ballad of the Dying Man” shows Tillman’s songwriting prowess. Musically, the harmonic progression catches the ear, a consistent characteristic of his work. The ear candy doesn’t just hail from his cerebral lyrics, but also from those harmonic underpinnings, the production, and at times, the orchestration, dependent upon the record. “Ballad of a Dying Man” checks all those boxes, without question.
Vocally, Father John Misty continues to be impressive. As awesome as his musical acumen is in regards to composition, his voice may be underrated. It shouldn’t be. Father John Misty provides a nuanced, complete performance on “Ballad,” with his falsetto being the crème de la crème. His tone is flawless.
What makes “Ballad of the Dying Man” the home run that it is? The lyrics, undoubtedly. As always, Father John Misty is reflective, speaking upon bigger issues through his poetic, intellectual words. The first verse sets the tone:
“Naturally, the dying man wonders to himself / Has commentary been more lucid than anybody else? / And had he successively beaten back the rising tide / Of idiots, dilettantes, and fools / On his watch while he was alive.”
Dilettantes? Only Josh Tillman – only Josh Tillman. In the second verse, the message is clearly political, with Father John Misty once more relying on the dying man.
“So says the dying man once I’m in the box / Just think of all the overrated hacks running amok / And all of the pretentious, ignorant voices that will go unchecked / The homophobes, hipsters, and one percent / The false feminists he’d managed to detect.”
Ultimately, Father John Misty is a beastly singer/songwriter. “Ballad of the Dying Man” shows his genius. Not only are his vocals superb, he’s pitch-perfect when it comes to capturing societal issues and views. On “Ballad,” he reflects on the temporariness of life. “We leave as clueless as we came / From rented heavens to shadows in the cave / We’ll all be wrong someday.”
Father John Misty • Pure Comedy • Sub Pop • Release: 4.7.17
Picture Credit: Sub Pop