Song of the Day: Father John Misty – I’m Writing A Novel

photo by Dave Lichterman

Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. In celebration of Sub Pop’s Silver Jubilee, KEXP is featuring songs exclusively from Sub Pop artists this week. Today’s song is “I’m Writing A Novel” by Father John Misty from the 2012 album Fear Fun on Sub Pop.

Father John Misty – I’m Writing A Novel (MP3)

Although he spent the majority of his career releasing somber folk albums under his birth name (Joshua Tillman), the Seattle musician now known as Father John Misty has become one of the last year’s most consistently fascinating artists, riding a Bowie-like reinvention to an inevitable spot in the upper echelons of indie rock. A critical and commercial sleeper hit, Fear Fun, Tillman’s debut under the moniker Father John Misty, was a reinvention that immediately made his former gig a footnote in any press coverage he received. Instead, journalists were now focusing on the onstage superstar who had suddenly emerged out of Tillman. And while his stage presence (photos here) during his live performances (which have been brilliantly analyzed by Shane Ryan at Paste) has been a key element of his success, it certainly helps that he has one hell of a great album to play every night. Incorporating elements of indie rock, folk, and country rock and tempered with a lyrical voice that’s at once serious and completely sardonic, Fear Fun is Tillman’s most direct and diverse set to date, covering quite a few musical bases while containing a slew of instantly memorable lyrical one-liners. “I’m Writing A Novel” has at least three of those one liners, with the opening line – “I ran down to the road/pants down to my knees/saying, ‘Please help me! That Canadian shaman gave a little too much to me!” – serving as one of the album’s key introductions to the rock and roll priest character Tillman has created. Driving with a country-style drum beat and soaring guitars, “I’m Writing A Novel” is perhaps Father John Misty’s quintessential track and an indie rock version of Arrested Development: self-referential, clever, and highly enjoyable to even those who don’t get the in-jokes.

Father John Misty is currently working on a followup to Fear Fun – tentitively titled I Love You, Honeybear (watch him play the title track live at the Neptune here) – but nonetheless, he’ll be embarking on a solo tour in the fall, including a date at the Moore on October 6th. Get tickets and info for that show here, and keep up with Tillman on his website and Facebook page. (His intermittently-deleted and hilarious Twitter account is down right now.) Below, watch Tillman and his band play “I’m Writing A Novel” live at KEXP last May.

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