Josh T Pearson – The Straight Hits!
The Texas troubadour puts away the acoustic tornadoes and tries to connect with his funny bone. Sort of...
Talk about the shock of the new. When we last heard from Josh T. Pearson he was fronting a reunited Lift to Experience and wowing festival audiences with a cool brand of buzzy indie rock. Before that, 2011's Last of the Country Gentlemen was a solo record of startling originality that made people sit up and take notice of the Texas troubadour. Now? Well, the only startling thing about The Straight Hits! is the marked difference in Pearson's singing and approach.
Opener Straight to the Top splurts out of the speakers like a lost lo-fi Buzzcocks B-side, whilst Straight At Me and Give It to Me Straight are wonky pop songs standing on funny organs and football-chant choruses respectively. The last links to the singer-songwriter of Last of the Country Gentlemen are the acoustic-led Straight Laced Come Undone (you get the picture with the titles, right?) and Damn Straight, but too often it feels like Pearson's tongue is firmly in his cheek. 'Damn straight, damn you Hank, Damn you Jones,' he sings in the latter and it's all a little too much.
The comic approach might work for, say, Father John Misty, but Josh Tillman's back catalogue isn't filled with heartbreaking beauty like that of Pearson. The beautiful Whiskey Straight Love nearly rescues things – just-woken-up vocals, a great harmony line and lovely acoustic guitar figure – while the devastating drum-machine led lament A Love Song (Set Me Straight) is just as good. But too often the feeling remains that the joke isn't funny enough to sustain a whole record, especially one that follows a masterpiece.
Listen to: Straight At Me, Whiskey Straight Love, A Love Song (Set Me Straight)