Some musicians achieve this cult status that will elevate anything they do to a place of legend. I wonder if Josh T. Pearson isn't approaching that place. I sense that the hype surrounding this record--not the record itself--smacks of hipsterdom. You can be sure that Josh Pearson's first record in ten years is a huge deal. MOJO and The Times already gave it 4/5 stars. Hmm.... So how is it really?
I was and remain an enormous fan of Lift to Experience, but was less than convinced by Pearson's acoustic output following the band. I know the legend, the stories of the bassist's wife dying while on tour, the drummer getting mailed an actual boot as a way of being kicked out of the band, the singer's dad being a preacher who refused to work since God would give him the means to live as a test of his faith. Et cetera, et cetera.
But when I first saw the album art for Last of the Country Music Gentlemen, i realized just how at risk Pearson is of becoming a media pawn. Why does he need to be seated with a shotgun next to hot models who contrast greatly with his "authentic" image? For someone who has notoriously shirked from fame, this is either a good omen or a bad one...
As for the music, it's all acoustic finger picked guitar and a voice. The lack of instrumentation works in his favor and makes it sound huge and powerful, even at its quietest. It goes from being as beautiful and transcendental as Jeff Buckley to reaching the dirtiness and unforgivingness of Vincent Gallo. I can't decide if it's beautiful or repulsive, which I guess is a good thing. It's definitely an uncomfortable listen-- I keep imagining Mark Kozelek listening to it, sulking, feeling out-emo-ed.
|"I'm Josh, and this is my band."|
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This interview excerpt is from My Old Kentucky Blog:
My Old Kentucky Blog: Are we hearing mostly first takes?
Josh T Pearson: The first three are on Last Of The Country Gentleman are. You know, the songs are so goddamned long. Once you get up over ten minutes, I wasn’t about to do it again. But if you get to minute five and it’s not working, just do it again. I agonized over the takes, rather than the recording process or the mic setups. Being such a personal record, I’m not going to lie, it was tough. Sometimes it would take ten minutes just to recover from a take, sometimes a few hours. I hope I don’t have to go through that again. I actually went gray overnight.
MOKB: Now that it’s done, and it met your standards, how do you feel about the record?
JTP: I don’t know, man. It seems like a terrible thing to do…to be happy about such a sad record. This record is definitely for other people. I can’t listen to it. I think it’s a good work, but I hope I don’t have to look at it for a very long time. It’s just too personal. If I was outside of myself and heard it, I’d think the guy was a real dick for doing it because it’s just too bare and honest.