Our spring and summer was a strange one, to say the least, the very least; some of us were forced to do little, some of us quite the opposite. Father John Misty somehow managed to join the Do Lots team. For a fella not to have a new album or be on tour, we sure had our fair share of the observational music guru, and, I for one, would never complain about that. Never.
Although two of his offerings were selflessly raising money for relief funds, so we ponder would we have been graced as much if things were different? Perhaps not, but it’s making a positive from a negative as the contributions warmed the heart and caressed the ears, oh, and I mustn’t forget, gave a bit of style advice by selling the notoriously rare Poem Zone T-shirts. Fans have always wanted to get their hands on the elusive garment and now can with all profits raised in August going to his touring crew and musical family.
Back in April came the extraordinary release of the live album Off-Key in Hamburg, where he donated all proceeds to Musicares Covid-19 Relief Fund. The twenty songs to indulge in are a heady mix of records new and old, and made for an emotional, immersive headphone session. Opening with Hangout At The Gallows, which offers the signature essence of many a Misty classic building and leading to a thrashing climax, all of the instruments inherently adding to its theatricality .
This can also be said for Things It Would Have Been Helpful To Know Before The Revolution, complete with it’s soaring brass. Holy Shit offers a ferocious instrumental section where the orchestra feels like they are going to take off, leading to a breathtaking beat of stillness. I Love You Honeybear is effervescent in any setting. However, the standout track sounds perfect here.
Heading into July now, our Father J released Anthem +3 to raise funds for Care Action and Ground Game LA. This digital EP of covers is understandably different to Off-Key, still sumptuous I may add, but it has calmness about it. The EP builds from song to song commencing with Anthem- originally by Leonard Cohen. This is the most removed from Misty’s usual sound that I have come across veering slightly towards an 80's style ballad, with superb arrangement and tear-jerking lyrics. There is a arresting combination of bass and organ in Trouble by British folk star Yusuf/Cat Stevens. It is a song that FJM could have written in this present day; it certainly holds several elements that have been inherited and adored by him.
Moving on to the latest release in our Tilman Period Of Unexpectedness is double A-side single To S./To R. as part of Sub Pop Singles Club Vol.5. A cool society to be a part of, 7” singles are the gold where, for just shy of a year, twelve attractive pieces of vinyl arrive through the post as you eagerly and patiently build your collection. The To S./To R. pair are two peas in a lusciously green pod and would sit neatly on the previous cover album as they hold a similar tone and atmosphere. To S. is a gentler, stringed affair dealing with a loved one's troubles, and To R. is a slightly denser and sensual number considering a similar theme and a visit from the angel of death.
Finally, on August 22nd, Welsh independent festival Green Man could not go ahead physically as planned, so they decided to surf the archives and present The Field of Streams: unseen sets from the environmentally and ethically sound gathering. 8:10 pm arrived and on he came, orchestra and all. Last year was FJM’s first time at headlining a festival and was divinely received.
A most surprising anecdote arose as he proclaimed that he hadn’t eaten as he was too nervous, so fancied some mac and cheese after: it was an ‘aw’ moment. He also had the audience laughing at his musings about usually playing two acts before The Cure and the front row don’t care much for bearded harmonisers. You could sense the warm reception and atmosphere, forcing people to question why on earth doesn’t he headline more.
So what next? Brand-spanking new album time? Pretty please. Euro Tour? Hmm, we really can’t possibly say about that one, but only keep the faith, rinsing every gig available to us in 2021. You know, something else will crop up; it’s Misty, after all. He’s played a blinder: supporting the industry, aiding his pals, giving us sweet, sweet music, and keeping his name in our thoughts. But, that isn’t ever going to be a problem for our Father John Misty who art in Music.
Article by Beverley Knight