There won’t be many gigs before the year is out that a power cut in a venue would improve, rather than ruin, but Josh T Pearson’s mournful solo tones in Oran Mor on Tuesday night could be best heard in a dark, silent, unamplified space.
It has been a decade since Pearson’s critically acclaimed, but short lived Texan trio, Lift To Experience wound up – releasing just one exhilarating alt-country bombshell. Whilst he has spent the time “digging in the earth” rather than riding the commercial wave in front of him, his stock has remained as high, if not raised, during his silence.
His first full release, “Last of the Country Gentlemen”, documents the demise of his marriage across weighty and winding songs, some surpassing the ten minute mark but all laden with a country and contemplative disposition.
On the majority of songs Pearson only supports himself with the delicate plucking of his guitar. This provides such a comfortable bed for his verses that, at times, it’s more akin to a six-piece string section than just six strings. There are flirting moments of string arrangement on the record, most notably from the equally bearded Warren Ellis, but live performances are unaccompanied – and all the more engaging for it.
To pull himself up from the nosedive of despair, the former rock band front-man unleashes a Rolodex of lewd jokes many times longer than the arsenal of songs at his disposal. This might seem odd to follow up a ten minute whirlpool of a forlorn detailing a wedlock spent in love with another woman, but is perhaps the only way the songsmith can cope with projecting this pain night after night on tour.
It also turns his gigs away from the tick box seriousness behind what many solo artists peddle as performances and allows the crowd to peer into the innocence behind a once intimidating beard. This leans a Pearson concerts towards a more “An Audience With” and allows a much more intoxicating evening with a man who is quietly, but confidently, one of the most unique wanderers in his field.
Whether he is brave and bold enough to continue lamenting and, subsequently, lamenting his heartbreak for our enjoyment; nevermind dragging it onto the stage for weeks at a time is not your concern next week. His Scottish debut at Stereo in Feburary is already weighting bragging material in parts of Sauchiehall Street.
Buy a ticket for Tuesday and be safe in the knowledge of being able to say you were there this year.