How Pitchfork Missed The Mark In Its Take On Josh Pearson's Last Of The Country Gentlemen
During South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin a few weeks ago, I ran into Josh T. Pearson's manager Peter Sasala at one of Pearson's many performances.
We spoke briefly about all the rave reviews that Pearson's new album Last Of The Country Gentlemen had received, including one we recently ran. But one voice was missing -- and a rather important one at that. The snobbish, yet mostly accurate, taste-making music media giant Pitchfork had yet to weigh in on the conversation.
"We expect a poor review from Pitchfork," Sasala said.
Perhaps he thought that Americans wouldn't receive Pearson's latest offering as well as Europeans. More likely, he was bracing for the worst and hoping for the best. It wouldn't be the first time that Pitchfork has delivered a career-crushing blow to a fledgling artist.
Earlier this week, the haymaker finally came -- this time came from P4K contributer Stephen M. Deusner, who summed up his entire review of Last Of The Country Gentlemen in his final thought: "At heart, it's just a dawdling folk record that's far too enamored with its own put-ons and far too disregarding of its listener."
In fairness, it's not hard to see where Deusner is coming from. Four of Country Gentlemen's seven songs go well over the 10-minute mark, and Pearson does lean heavy on the country-boy, ranch-hand persona that he carries.
But you only have to skim the album to figure that out. It seems that Deusner didn't do much more.
Overall, Deusner's review comes off lazy and poorly researched. He
includes only one excerpt from the album's lyrics, but never makes
mention of album's concept.
This album is a break-up record. A painful, man-at-the-end-of-his-rope, nothing-left-to-give, break-up album. So, when he writes that "Pearson sounds like he's just making it all up as he goes along -- as if he has no other mission beyond the present moment;" Duesner's not taking into account the fact that these are the focused ramblings of a man who has basically lost everything he held dear. Even if you haven't done any research on Pearson, you can still get that from listening to the record.
I can't help but wonder if Deusner even listened to Country Gentlemen all the way through. He certainly didn't study it long enough to know what it was about. He persists in focusing on the length of the songs as the benchmark of his review.
"Pearson keeps going and going," he writes, "treating your attention like a given instead a gift."
And, yet, if Deusner took even a moment to watch one of the many Youtube clips of Pearson performing these songs live, he would see that Pearson has no problem commanding the attention of an audience with similar versions of all of these songs.
I'm not saying that Last Of The Country Gentlemen is an easy listen. It isn't. And it certainly isn't a pleasant record, either. But I am saying that it's a phenomenal album nonetheless -- and one that gives back as much, if not more, than you give it.
Daunting a task as that is with this record, it would be easy to simply skim through it and write a scathing review, which is what it appears Stephen M. Deusner has done here.
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