Hear Father John Misty’s Synthpop “Mr. Tillman” And Gillian Welch Cover For Spotify

The Spotify Single is swiftly becoming an album-promotion tradition, not that different from a Tiny Desk Concert or a stop on the late-night circuit. The idea is this: An artist visits the Spotify studios and plays a live-in-studio take on a new song, one that usually doesn’t sound too different from the on-record version. And then the artist also covers another artist’s song, sometimes completely reimagining it. Artists don’t typically do anything too bold in these Spotify sessions. But then Father John Misty is not a typical artist.

The endlessly sharp and self-aware folk-rocker released his God’s Favorite Customer album a few months ago. And for his Spotify session, he played his self-interrogating single “Mr. Tillman,” taking it apart and rebuilding it from the ground up. In its Spotify Singles form, “Mr. Tillman” becomes a whizzing, squeaking synthpop jam. Josh Tillman’s voice isn’t really built for the genre, but it sort of works almost despite itself.

For the flipside, on the other hand, Tillman has gone full folk. He’s done a tender acoustic version of “Everything Is Free,” a song that the inveterate roots rambler Gillian Welch released on her 2001 album Time (The Revelator). Tillman’s take on the song is warm, soft, and inviting. And you can hear his versions of both of those songs below.

God’s Favorite Customer is out now on Sub Pop.