Josh T. Pearson Record Review

The Straight Hits! (Mute)

Josh T. Pearson Record Review

Whatever fans might be expecting from Josh T. Pearson, this isn't it.

The unpredictable Texan's first album in seven years begins by slamming out an unprecedentedly upbeat, cocksure rocker with motormouthed declarations of his invincible sprint to a musical Mount Olympus. "Straight to the Top!" recalling twang-punk architects Jason & the Scorchers, stands as one of three brilliant songs on the Lift to Experience frontman's sophomore solo release, which could be seen as a back-to-basics effort.

That's if the Limestone County resident had ever been – or ever could be – basic.

Gone is the quavering slow-folk of 2011's Last of the Country Gentlemen. Now Pearson's baritone drawl jumps like a frog, occasionally exuding a campy gooberness. For yuks, cue up barroom anthem "Give It to Me Straight."

Renowned for wrestling the divine and profane on Lift's masterwork The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, Pearson now serenades the heavy concept of love – with varying quality. The seductive "Straight Laced Come Undone" is a horny dud, but drum-machine transport "A Love Song (Set Me Straight)" deftly communicates the vise-grips of amore. The musically dense "Loved Straight to Hell" so beautifully captures the magic of Lift that you can envision a Leslie speaker with a cow skull on it.

Each track here employs "straight" in the title, but Josh T. Pearson remains crooked as a bag of snakes.

***.5

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