FATHER JOHN'S previous album, Pure Comedy, was a vast, sprawling 'state of the American nation' address, and consequently difficult to digest, weighted down by the weight of what it was dealing with.
God's Favourite Customer sees Father John (aka Josh Tillman ) return to the more focused sound and structure of his startling second album, I Love You, Honeybear, mixing seventies American singer-songwriter styles, with roots rock, and his trademark heavy cynicism and dark humour. Tillman has plenty to say - about himself, and others - but this time he gets his message across, without it compromising or overtaking the music.
"What's your politics? What's your religion?" he asks on the stunning opening track, 'Hangout At The Gallows', which swells to a chorus and backing vocals that recall The Beatles 'Sexy Sadie'; complaints to the artist from a hotel management are cataloged in 'Mr Tillman', which is as funny as it is delicate and melodic; 'Date Night' recounts the date from hell, with a swagger and strut, vocal twists and turns, and an insistent acoustic guitar and piano, that make it one of the album's absolute highlights.
Yet the most powerful songs here, are the most intimate. The moving 'Please Don't Die' is painfully vulnerable, the most exposed we have yet heard Tillman (in his Fr John guise ), while in 'The Songwriter', Tillman sits by his piano and contemplates the morality of using others lives to fuel creativity. Tillman's music always take a bit of work to get into, but God's Favourite Customer is certainly worth the time.