Hey readers, it’s time for another edition of ‘Keep It On Wax;’ note how last time I didn’t specify if this would be a weekly thing or not, that’s because I’m incredibly busy (lazy) and find it hard to treat ya’ll to a new article between other arrangements (playing video games). So with that out of the way, with no apology on my part might I add. Let’s see what I’ve pulled out of the collection today.
“Last of the Country Gentlemen” by Josh T Pearson.
Josh T Pearson may not be a name you are familiar with, however this doesn’t mean that his work is something you should be ignoring or lacking interest in. Pretty much every piece of work Pearson has put out has become critically acclaimed. “Last of the country gentlemen” was listed as Rough Trade’s album of the year in 2011 and was further nominated for Best Album and Breakthrough Act at the same years Mojo Awards. Prior to his solo career Pearson formed “Lift to Experience” in 1996. Releasing only their debut album in 2001 “The Texas Jerusalem Crossroads” as the name suggests this album was full of songs that described the connection of Texas to the Middle-East mostly in a metaphysical context, however this cocktail of influences proved popular. Shortly after releasing the album “Lift to Experience” disbanded.
Coming back to the present day, I believe I found Pearson’s music through the film “Seven Psychopaths” by Martin McDonagh. I remember hearing the track “Country Dumb” play and taking me away from the film completely. The simple picking of one man and his guitar, followed by the harrowing southern drawl Pearson effortlessly carries in his singing was such a step back from the films rather fast paced and erratic style. By all accounts it shouldn’t have worked, but it did. I left the cinema with that song stuck in my head and spent quite a while trying to find the soundtrack online and then listening to every subsequent track until I found it. I was hooked.
I recall picking it up on Vinyl from the Truck Store in Oxford. I find it searching through a new crate they had labelled “Americana” the cover doesn’t offer much in the way of identifying what you’re purchasing. It’s a picture of Pearson hunched down clutching a woman in a leather vest that is slightly revealing her bare chest, it’s rather beautiful to look at. There’s an unmistakable sense of longing on the cover. It’s only on the reverse that you see the track names. It was when I saw country dumb that it struck me that this may well be the album of which that song I searched for was on.
Listening to the album for the first time I felt as if I was transported back into the Old West. It wasn’t until I listened a few more times that the intricacies of the album and song writing made themselves apparent. Side B has probably been played the most, containing the track “Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell” and “Honeymoon’s Great! Wish you were her.” These two tracks offer you 20 minutes of incredibly honest lyrics, Pearson’s masterful picking which makes his guitar sound as defeated as he is, combining this with the swelling of strings in each track it’s an visualisation (is auralisation a thing?) of love, loss and despair. Lyrics such as “Honestly, why can’t you just let it be and let me quietly drink myself to sleep.” from “Woman when I’ve Raised Hell” and “You’ll leave and I’ll be left alone to wonder, if I was with her would I start wishing that she were you? It’d be kind of funny if it weren’t so damn true, I’d gauge my eyes right out if I thought it would help me not to see her when I look at you.” from “Honeymoon’s Great! Wish you were her.” Pair the sentiment of these lyrics with the cover and it’s almost as if you’re watching this story unfold. You almost feel voyeuristic listening to it. This is just one side (or two tracks) of the album. The rest follow this formula.
I would argue that everyone should at least try and listen to this album as I’m aware there are some aspects of this album that may not appeal to people. Mainly the dark folk/country vibe with an old western feel to it. However if like me, you enjoy the idea of seeing life in Sepia tones and find solace with other people’s accounts of loss and the pain that goes with it. I’d recommend this one fully for your collection.
Josh T Pearson’s Last of the Country Gentlemen is available to purchase at the following places and most good record shops: