What can be said about this album that hasn’t been said and you have already heard? If you are at least remotely interested in country, Americana, folk music in 2011, you have most likely already read and heard of Josh T. Pearson and his album “Last of the Country Gentlemen”. A simple yet soo complex you can’t even delve into it album from a man creating a masterpiece. Dramatic? Yes. That is what this album is essentially. Its soo tortured, slow, hushed, hurt and haunting that you are left in turn feeling like it is dramatically beautiful and immense. Last of the Country Gentlemen, best album of the year? Yes.
Okay, getting worked up about an album released in March as the album of the year before hearing even half of what is released in 2011 is kinda my style… To be fair, I will wait to officially make my decision in about 6 months but one needs to think that this album has the legs that very few other albums have had lately. Don’t believe me? Listen:
So while I am not going to ‘review’ the album as you already know I love it, thus I am not an objective observer on the weight this album holds but I thought I might quote from a friend of mine. The friend is Morgan King who I have known for a while now (and he is the original owner of Yer Bird Records that I now run – so you know we are on the same page) and he writes things as they should be. While I strain to provide this album with proper prose, I am going to quote from Morgan on a review he did on his ‘Rate Your Music’ account.
“A massive, intimate triumph of an album. Certainly not for those with a short attention span, and in many ways not even for old fans of Lift to Experience, as this trades in the bombast of that record for something stripped bare of arena rock trappings, focusing on the core of self-doubt and the sheer hell of living with yourself that has permeated Pearson’s limited recorded output. Pearson’s sprawling free-folk narratives are laced with heady imagery and wry humor – with the backing of Warren Ellis’s always-gorgeous strings – create a broad tapestry of tragedy, remorse and recurring meditations on the sheer terror that comes with responsibility.”
Yes, I agree with this overview – it can be an album that is lost on some while those that actually ‘find’ it, discover it. Morgan is writing the words that fail to fall from my fingertips when listening to this album. But it doesn’t stop there.
“This is an extremely masculine, barely repentant, full-on Id album – limp-wristed scarf-wearing indie-pop fans need not apply, at least not until they’ve lived long enough to have experienced being bitterly divorced, being a righteous bastard, or had to shake off the morning DTs with a shot of bourbon while you’re still sitting on the toilet. Or, put another way, imagine if Leonard Cohen was a shit-kicking Texas drunk instead of an effete NYC martini-sipper and you’re getting pretty close. It’s highly unlikely 2011 will produce a more unique or compelling record.”
I personally think one thing that really hits home about the above quote is that this album IS extremely masculine – and outside of “boys don’t cry” mentality, this is another facet of the album’s raw appeal. While Leonard Cohen fans may not like the comparison, I don’t think it is unwarranted – in relation to this album at least. At this point, after all the many reviews on the album (mostly very positive except for the one glaringly obvious one at a certain music website) I have nothing other to say than this album is one that I will hold onto for a while and for good reason. Give it a chance, you might see the light via his darkness.
P.S. remember to get the vinyl version of the album as it includes the non CD track “Last of the Country Gentlemen”.
P.P.S. You might also know Morgan King as the one responsible for the original story in the Strand of Oaks Vinyl album. The story that ties all songs from the album into one surreal tale…check it out if you can!