When Lift to Experience quickly imploded, there was a definite sense of an empty space and unrealised potential left behind in their absence. Bassist Josh Browning retired. Drummer Andy Young formed Western Arms with Guy Garvey. And as for their enigmatic vocalist and guitarist Josh T. Pearson, apart from the odd tour bootleg or appearance on Bat For Lashes’ debut ‘Fur & Gold’, the man seemingly disappeared into the wilderness.
Though on the face of it Josh’s debut LP ‘Last Of The Country Gentlemen’ seems effortless in its delivery, recorded in just two days at Berlin based studio Klangbild, when considered next to Josh’s ten year recording absence it is clear that the album is no immaculate conception. Retreating to the road that had been his home since a young boy in Texas, Josh has tirelessly toured and crafted each song meticulously with no stone left unturned. Exploring and revising every variable of his songs with a tenacious fervour that has afforded him the nickname of ”The Perfectionist’, Josh finally committed to recording once satisfied with the emotional responses his songs received from audiences. Clearly the emotions Josh was looking for were the ones that mirrored his own. Torn and splitting at the seams like a worn in jacket, this open wound of a record is the sound of a man licking and then salting his wounds to spite himself. The healing process may still be ongoing, but the overwhelming sense of catharsis in this record is undeniable.
In ‘Woman, When I’ve Raised Hell’ we have an epistle of frustration and self loathing in the vein of Nick Cave’s ‘Green Eyes’ that catches in the throat upon discovery. Accompanied by wistful acoustic guitar, a voice so tentative and so melancholic offers a song that stirs the deepest and most regretful part of you. Cave collaborator and Bad Seed Warren Ellis lends his bruised and mournful violin touch to the studio version, however to feature on the blog I have instead chosen a solo Faits Divers session that truly does Josh’s stark confessional justice. Though maintaining a reserved composure, every subtle inflection and note expressed exudes infinite openness to the point that it seems he will bleed out in his seat.
A parable to those who would rush on and leave errant details to ‘fix later’, it is clear that in some cases it is better to spend the time to get it right before opening your mouth. An album a mere two days in delivery, but ten years in the making, ‘The Last of The Country Gentlemen’ has been released to unanimous critical acclaim in Europe. It is clear that in the case of Josh T. Pearson that the words of Robert Frost hold true: ‘Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference.’
‘The Last Of The Country Gentlemen’ is available in record stores now.