Josh T. Pearson

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by Sandy Carson

Josh T. Pearson

Central Presbyterian Church, Wednesday, March 16

"It feels good to be in the house of the Lord," Josh T. Pearson said with a cracked whisper, like the voice of a prophet returned from the wild places. After a decade in Europe, the Denton, Texas, singer-songwriter has broken his musical exile with a new devotion to torch songs lit with the fire of his faith. He hinted at those duel devotions a decade ago in his days with Texas psych revivalists Lift to Experience, but his new solo album, Last of the Country Gentlemen, is a vow to both. He wrapped his set in an imploring "Rivers of Babylon," its spiritual despair adding tears to "Thou Art Loosed." It was with "Sweetheart I Ain't Your Christ" that he stopped time, a penitent man's farewell letter to his love. Where others would howl, Pearson's voice cradled a heart softly in its dying moments. Yet there was the joy of revelation, as well as the laconic humor of honky-tonk. "This is a couple's song," he said before the divorce drama of "Woman, When I've Raised Hell" showed all sides of passion, from agony to ecstasy. Pearson performs Friday, March 18, at the 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn, 12mid.

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