Ever hear a record that reminds you of another artist, only better on several levels? Here’s one:
The Artist/Album: Josh T. Pearson, Last of the Country Gentlemen (Mute, 2011)
The Record It Reminds Us Of: Bonnie “Prince” Billy, I See a Darkness (Palace, 1999)
The Story Behind the Songs: To be honest, we wrote this record off at first, thinking, ‘What’s with the Kings of Leon castaway, and what’s wrong with his poor model friend? Is she sad because she’s not allowed to eat anything but lentils–lots and lots of lentils?’
But then we listened on a lark and, well, it’s great. Like stop-everything-you’re-doing-and-listen-to-this-goddamn-thing great.
Unbeknownst to us, Pearson fronted Lift To Experience in the late ’90s, a cult favorite from Denton, Texas that delivered one double album (2001’s The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads) before Pearson walked right off the face of the earth. He crept back into our collective consciousness a couple times since, sharing some self-released recordings and rare shows, but Last of the Country Gentlemenis the LP he poured a decade of debilitating love and genuine loss into. It’s country music at its core–alternating tales of redemption and sheer hopelessness, chased with rows of uncorked whiskey bottles–and yet, it’s more brutal than that one black-metal record you heard last week.
The reason is simple: Pearson doesn’t write linear songs. He treats the studio like his own personal confessional booth. If that means exorcising his demons for 10 minutes straight–which he does on four tracks that total around 45 minutes–then MP3 culture be damned. The man’s gonna speak. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll listen. You’ll listen good.