Friday, 15 April 2011

Josh T Pearson - Last of the Country Gentlemen

Gentlemen prefer bombs

This is explosive stuff in its angst and anger, love explored in all its darkest manifestations with the pain and regret and recriminations and hatred and spiritual ennui of living this romantic nihilism.

I'm not sure if this can accurately embrace such a complex album but it gives you a gist of the songs' candid and confessional narratives, either from Pearson's real experiences [a relationship disaster and a ten year break from his last major musical endeavour, one part of the unique Lift To Experience countrypunk trio] or those of assumed personas, even then informed by Pearson's dark personal thoughts.

The songs are long and seemingly stream-of-consciousness diatribes, weaving along unknown roads where the occasional hidden landmines are triggered and the softly picked acoustic guitar is blown into a flurry of strumming. The lyrics mirror this dynamic paradox. In Woman, When I've Raised Hell.... the pleading 'Honestly, why can't you just let me be and let me quietly drink myself to sleep' is sung slowly and, although obnoxious, suggests an inner defeat, but this rises to an ominously defiant 'because honestly you are my queen but you had better leave or I will be forced to be king ...' and the once soothing strings also climax into a momentary anger. And it is absolutely beautiful.

In Honeymoon's Great - Wish You Were Here Pearson sings of loving a woman who 'simply ain't my wife'. This is the script for Country, but here there are no twee platitudes and homespun rhymes - in another even longer outpouring of candour at 13 minutes, the song tells and retells the simple but insuperable agony of loving another woman for whom he will not leave his wife [such gentlemanly behaviour in a world where this wouldn't normally matter]. The harsh honesty is contained in lines like 'And it'd be kinda funny if it weren't so damn true. I'd gouge my eyes out if I thought it would help me not to see her when I look at you'.

In the battle between melody and melancholy the latter wins but that is what will ultimately make this album outlast pretty and catchy music because it demands such concentration and tolerance when listening - and then the desire to return to empathise in the cathartic unravelling of each song. You won't be whistling these tunes, but you might end up whittling away at your own doubt and despair.

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