Originally published: The Clash
It’s been ten years since Josh T. Pearson released The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, the debut album from his band Lift to Experience. Met by critical acclaim, the band split soon after the record’s release and the space rock preacher man faded into obscurity. “Ten fricking years, man,” japes the bearded Texan, “I hope yours was better than mine.”
Aside from a guest appearance on Bat For Lashes’ Fur and Gold and a split 7” single release with the Dirty Three, he puts the past decade of relative inactivity down to the trails and tribulations of balancing his art with making a living. Not that he is here to bore us with such pensive and portentous thoughts: “What’s the difference between a musician and a 12” pizza?” he utters to the crowd having stolen their breath with the plaintive ‘Country Dumb’. “The pizza can feed a family of four.”
Despite the dark heart that he has poured into his solo debut Last of the Country Gentlemen, Josh T. Pearson is quite the humorist outside of his songs’ solemnity. (And often than not, it’s the between song banter that saves the show from being a very lachrymose affair.) However, it is when he is at his heaviest that he is most affecting, as the plaintive thrum of ‘Sweetheart I Ain’t Your Christ’ and ‘Woman When I’ve Raised Hell’ see the Texan spin a lyrical yarn of failed relationships and forlorn, troubled souls. Even a cover of Boney M’s raga-tipped ‘Rivers of Babylon’ is turned into a heartbreaking hymnal masterpiece.
He’s said that it took him a few hours to recover from a single take of one of his songs while recording Last of the Country Gentlemen, and that he will never be able to listen to the album himself such is the candidness of its tales. But finally, after his ten-year interlude from studio recording, he has something to once again share with the public – something emotive, compelling and empathetic on the ears. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” he explains of his respite – but it did reined for many more to come.