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Josh T. Pearson

Last of the Country Gentlemen

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Texas-born singer-songwriter Josh T. Pearson was the guitarist, singer, and songwriter of Lift to Experience, a gothic guitar-driven power trio. The band cut one EP and a double album, The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, before breaking up in 2001, leaving behind a sizeable cult following and gushing reviews for its intense live shows. Pearson moved to Europe and kept an extremely low profile. He emerged in 2006 with a one-off single, a cover of Hank Williams' "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry."

If you liked Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, you'll love his current album. Five of its seven tracks go on for longer than ten minutes, featuring the same tortured quasi-religious images and minimal melodies that made Lift to Experience alternately compelling and excruciating. Pearson is a powerful singer, often sounding like he's about to break into a sob or a scream of rage, but always holding back to convey a feeling of hopeless despair. His minimal guitar-playing and dark, subtle cello accents keep the focus on the lyrics, which are both his strength and his weakness. For every brilliant image, there's a cringe-worthy pun like falling into an alco-hole to break the mood. Individual songs are compelling, but the lack of dynamics and uniformly somber tempos make it hard to listen to the whole album in one sitting. The opener, "Thou Art Loosed," is probably the strongest track, a three-minute shot of wailing desperation with a hint of ironic humor to leaven its bitter lyric. (Mute)

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