20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
Josh T Pearson - On the lost highway,
This review is from: Last of the Country Gentlemen (Audio CD)"The last of the Country Gentlemen" is a damaged and raw record of rare brilliance built up after ten years of self imposed exile, sadness and cocaine wilderness. Josh T Pearson's return is long overdue, particularly for those still smitten by the mighty glory of Lift to Experience's astounding sonic double album of 2001's Texas Jerusalem Crossroads with its central theme of the Lone Star State emerging from the apocalypse as a geographical "Noah's arks" with its epicentre in the town of Denton. It is an album of such intensity that it did suggest a sort of Van Gogh like insanity with the bands heart and soul literally poured into every note. It is hardly surprising therefore that LTE imploded and never been seen since. As Pearson admits with some understatement "We dropped the ball on it. We needed time... I just went out there and prepared for the end of the world. That's just the way it happened."
Seek out pictures today of Pearson and it appears that he could have stepped out of the pages of history. He could stand on the Battlefield at Gettysburg and look like a member of Pickett's Brigade and there is something about "Last of the country gentlemen" which has a timeless and spellbinding quality. It must rank with Neil Young's "Tonight the night" as an epic of desolate bleak beauty. In effect Pearson's album is aural equivalent to the written works of that western genius Cormac McCarthy and the albums weary central tenet is one of failure, burn out and approaching hell in a hand basket. This despair is summarized in the opening line to the glorious ten-minute plus "Country Dumb" that "I come from a long line in history of dreamers/each one more tired than the one before ". (Check out the alternative piano version on the Internet music blogs). On "Woman I've raised hell" you suspect that Pearson has recorded a song destined to be one of the greatest country laments as pleads "honestly why cant you just let it be/ and let me quietly drink myself to sleep/honestly it not what it appears to be"
As it stands this is not so much an album of songs as seven miniature sagas in which Pearson lays bare the tumult of his last ten years and responds with earthy acoustics that meander and ramble but also touch and beguile. There is no attempt here at any Ryan Adams or Dylan LeBlanc alt country accessibility, there is little cheer to be had in an album which travels a journey from heartbreak to rage and back again. The 13 minute plus "Honeymoon is great, I wish you were her" starts with the line "I'm in love with another women/please don't tell my wife" and travels over a tale of infidelity punctuated by a sparse acoustics and a lonesome violin. "Sweetheart I ain't your Christ" in particular is the acoustic equivalent of the sonic boom that is the Texas Jerusalem crossroads "With Crippled wings" sometimes appearing almost to fade out only to reappear with an agonizingly slow commentary from JP. As a singer he has also regularly been compared to Jeff Buckley and the beautiful hymn like opener "Thou art loosed" evokes his memory .
Pearson's return in 2011 is as welcome as Gil Scott Heron's rejuvenation in 2010. Both men have never compromised on their musical vision and by doing so had to pay a price. You are warned that if you are looking for a second set of explosives to match the Texas Jerusalem Crossroads it is not to be found here. There is no attempt on the Last of the Country Gentlemen to sweeten the pill or produce music with any hint of commerciality, compare this with the Low Anthem recent Smart Flesh and the latter could be a Glee album in terms of mood. Many will absolutely hate it, while others will dumbstruck. It is an album that is a forceful and potent reminder that the world needs its damaged losers and outsiders. Josh T Pearson has tapped into a vein of dark melancholy that leads him to produce a completely outstanding set of confessional tales which is classic country music red in tooth and claw and dripping with despair.
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 14 Mar 2011 17:23:29 GMT
Mr. H Chinaski says:
Nice review R o B. Funnily enough whenever I listen to this record (which has been more than my heart can take), it conjures up thoughts of the great Cormac McCarthy. Must be something in it.
This is easily the best record I've heard so far this year, and I think it may become somewhat of a slow burner given enough time.
In reply to an earlier post on 14 Mar 2011 18:26:53 GMT
Last edited by the author on 14 Mar 2011 20:26:19 GMT
Red on Black says:
Mr Chinaski it is a dark pleasure indeed and lets hope that Pearson doesn't wait another ten years before recording his next. You are right easily in the top five best of the year so far and probably destined to stay there. Note on the I Tunes version there is an extra track which turns out to be the title track and its excellent
Cheers R o B
In reply to an earlier post on 15 Mar 2011 21:45:59 GMT
Mr. H Chinaski says:
Cheers, I'll be sure to check that out.
Posted on 17 Apr 2011 19:17:03 BDT
Big G says:
Thanks to R o B for the review. After seeing him on Jools, I am tempted to buy the album. I loved the darkness of "Sweetheart ...." and it reminds me of the last couple of Scott Walker albums, not so much in the structure of the songs, but the lyrical content. Perhaps I am wrong, because I have only heard the one track, but I will be checking out the others on i-tunes. Whatever, a really interesting and helpful review.
In reply to an earlier post on 18 Oct 2011 21:22:55 BDT
Red on Black says:
Thank you Geoff and apologies for missing your comment to date. Highest Regards RoB
In reply to an earlier post on 18 Oct 2011 21:22:57 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 19 Oct 2011 19:45:15 BDT]
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