Josh T. Pearson

Last of the Country Gentlemen

Mute

Mar 30, 2011 Issue #35 - Winter 2011 - Death Cab for Cutie Bookmark and Share


Erstwhile frontman of eccentric Texas weirdoes Lift to Experience, which released one album in 2001, the brilliant The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, and called it quits, Josh T. Pearson's debut is a mixed bag. When stripped of the swaggering wall of sound bombast his band so capably delivered, Pearson can veer dangerously close to odiously staid singer/songwriter territory. Yet he's too damn charismatic not to create some memorable tunes on the ascetic Last of the Country Gentlemen.

A perusal at the tracklisting of the album makes it look like you're in store for some hackneyed hoedown revival. "Country Dumb," "Honeymoon is Great, I Wish You Were Her," "Drive Her Out" all sound like tracks appropriate for drinking some moonshine on the back porch with your hound dog running loose. But Pearson delivers these tracks with such tender pathos that it's hard to not be moved when he croons, "There won't be a star untouched in your sky/When my lightning crashes across that night" over a mélange of gossamer strings on the spare, lugubrious "Woman When I've Raised Hell."

As gorgeous as these tracks can be, the venom and vile that made The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads such a compelling listen is sorely missed. He approaches it on "Sweetheart I Ain't Your Christ," with its devastating conflation of sacrilege with betrayal, as he confesses dejectedly, "When I said I'd give my life/I weren't talking suicide," over threadbare, fractured acoustic guitar. It's a beguiling song, the finest on the album, one that sustains a lachrymose mood in the manner of Nick Drake's Pink Moon.

Sure, the fire and brimstone have been eschewed here, but Pearson's 10 years past Jerusalem Crossroads, and he's obviously finding some cold comfort in minimalism and restraint. And on Last of the Country Gentlemen, Pearson's crafted an auspicious opening scene to what will hopefully be a long and brilliant second act. (www.myspace.com/joshtpearson)

Author rating: 6/10

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