Josh T. Pearson Interview

The interview with Texan gentleman Josh T. Pearson is available to download in full now (37 mins approx.) here:

featuring talk of...

... church music, discovering rock 'n roll, U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday, alternate guitar tunings, the World Beard Championships, reading his own reviews, the emotional effort of recording Last of the country gentlemen and more...

The interview was recorded a couple of Sundays ago in a quiet corner of the Crane Lane Theatre in Cork, shortly after Josh's gig in the same venue (though not before Josh had shared conversations with most of the audience - he is a man generous with his time and an absorbing conversationalist). He ordered coffee (cream and sugar) and orange juice. I abstained.

The gig was compelling and also very enjoyable. Compelling because the songs from his current album shine an uncomfortable and very personal spotlight on himself. It bordered on some kind of psychodrama at times, one side of a confrontational dialogue. Looking back, I've used that word "compelling" a couple of times recently in describing both the album and lead track Woman, when I've raised hell, as per below.

Josh T. Pearson - Woman, when I've raised hell (Mute, from the album Last of the country gentlemen)

Thoroughly outstanding centrepiece from the Texan's, ex-Lift to Experience frontman's, new album. From the gripping opening line, "Woman, when I've raised hell, you're gonna know it", you will be captivated by the wonderfully slurred delivery for the full 7 minutes. That's without mentioning the heartrending violin backing of Warren Ellis (and others*) and the completely convincing dirty realist imagery - "Don't make me rule this home with the back of my hand", "Let me quietly drink myself to sleep". In a way, it's amazing how much drama can be wrought out of a sparse acoustic guitar, a vocal and some strings. I've listened to it about 20 times and it still sounds new every time. However you cut it, it's a compelling masterpiece.

Josh T. Pearson - Last of the country gentlemen (Mute)

A man struggling with the end of a relationship. One side of a dialogue between two lovers. A dramatic storyline of religious intensity and naked honesty. This album is all of these things, and some more. Including a compelling answer to the challenge of three chords and the truth. And a deconstruction of country music, using tempo changes and squalls of overlapping, fingerpicked guitar patterns. Also Thou art loosed comes on like an out-of-phase Roy Orbison, who after all was the king of break-up records. Sad songs, in this case, say so much. You need to hear this.

The gig was also very enjoyable largely because of the between-song banter which JTP took the time to engage in. Including flirting good-naturedly with most of the seven female members of the audience. And some bearded dudes (who hopefully bought some t-shirts at the merch stand). He even cajoled the audience into joining him in a rendering of (traditional Irish tune) Molly Malone, in tribute to the girl staffing said merch stand. It achieved the desired effect, lightening the mood from the bleak and heartrending terrain of the songs. (I put it to him that Cork anthem On the banks of my own lovely Lee would have been a better choice of singalong and he promised to research it for his next visit.) And no fear that he could be mistaken for a singer-songwriter (TM), he managed so much dynamic range from the bare essentials of acoustic guitar and voice. A great and committed performer, in his prime (just check the beard).

*I learned after the gig that Mike Sidell (of The Leisure Society) was also key to the wonderful violin accompaniment on Woman, when I've raised hell.

Some between-song banter, courtesy of genkisparkle -


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