Monday 27 May 2019

Father John Misty's blood on the tracks

Barry Egan hails Joe Strummer's '001', Father John Misty's 'God's Favorite Customer', Bob Dylan's 'More Blood', and Wyvern Lingo's self-titled debut of 2018

Father John Misty's 'God's Favorite Customer': a masterpiece of vulnerability
Father John Misty's 'God's Favorite Customer': a masterpiece of vulnerability
Barry Egan

Barry Egan

Someone wise once said that 'beauty of expression is so akin to the voice of the sea'. Growing up in Bray with the waves of the sea perhaps a subconscious soundtrack to their youth, childhood friends Caoimhe Barry, Karen Cowley and Saoirse Duane aka Wyvern Lingo, know all about the beauty of expression on their debut, and self-titled, album. Wyvern Lingo has echoes of early Prince, A Tribe Called Quest, Bjork and Massive Attack while sounding nothing remotely like any of those acts; Wyvern Lingo have something of their own going on. They gave one of the performances of the night in May at the Rock Against Homelessness concert in aid of Focus at the Olympia.

Bob Dylan will surely give one of the concerts of 2019 when he performs with Neil Young at Nowlan Park in Kilkenny on July 14 next. The Bard of Hibbing certainly provided one of the most compelling albums of 2018 with the six-CD deluxe edition of More Blood, More Tracks: The Bootleg Series Vol. 14. The original album, Blood On The Tracks, was released on January 20, 1975. Listening to the new stuff is painful at times, in the context that the lyrical context is Bob's nine-year marriage to Sara Lownds breaking apart painfully, the blood on the tracks of the album. "A lot of people tell me they enjoyed that album," Dylan said in an April, 1975, radio interview to promote Blood On The Tracks. "It's hard for me to relate to that - I mean, people enjoying that type of pain." (Bob did attempt a softer approach on Desire, released in January, 1976, on the beautiful Sara, which, alas, didn't have the desired effect. An onlooker in the studio, when the track was recorded in Bob Spitz's biography, said: "Bob obviously wanted to surprise her with it. He turned and sang the song directly at Sara. He was really pouring out his heart to her. It was obvious she was unmoved."

Blood On The Track's Idiot Wind is paint-stripping viciousness. On the 1976 live album Hard Rain, Bob - with his wife in the audience - changes the Idiot Wind lyric of "Visions of your chestnut mare" to the vituperation of "Visions of your smoking tongue". No one was unduly surprised when Sara filed for divorce on March 1, 1977.

Just as painful for similar reasons (a marriage break-up) is Father John Misty's masterpiece of vulnerability, God's Favorite Customer. Imagine John Lennon channelling Seamus Heaney. On The Songwriter, Josh Tillman (for it is he) sings to his wife: "What would it sound like if you were the songwriter/And you made your living off of me? Would you detail your near constant consternation/ With the way my very presence makes your muscles up and flee?"

God's Favorite Customer also features tracks you won't forget in a hurry, too, like Please Don't Die and We're Only People (And There's Not Much Anyone Can Do About That). Along with Idles' Joy As an Act Of Resistance, other albums of 2018 include The 1975's A Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, and Prince's Piano & A Microphone 1983. There is also Joe Strummer 001, Jimi Hendrix's Both Sides of the Sky, to say nothing of Glen Hansard's Between Two Shores and Damien Dempsey's Union. I also hugely enjoyed Neneh Cherry's Broken Politics (on Fallen Leaves, she sings: "Just because I'm down/Don't step all over me") and John Coltrane's Both Directions at Once: The Lost Album. John was a revelation. Ask Bono, he'll tell you, or indeed watch Glen Hansard's Between Two Shores doc on Netflix to find out why for yourself.

Also majestic is the ongoing sonic journey of Damon Albarn as explored on Merrie Land by The Good, The Bad & The Queen (Damo with Paul Simonon, Simon Tong and Tony Allen) Merrie Land is good fare, but nowhere near as beautifully sad as his 2014 solo album, Everyday Robots.

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