Release Date: Apr 13, 2018
Record label: Mute US
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
The joke behind The Straight Hits! -- an album consisting of ten songs with some conjugation of "straight" in their title -- is that Josh T. Pearson isn't quite playing it straight here. After plumbing a dark night of the soul on 2011's Last of the Country Gentlemen, Pearson decided it was time to throw a curve ball by writing songs that were "to the point." So he tightened up his songcraft, then revved up a backing band, getting them to tear up a hardwood honky tonk floor on the cowpunky "Straight to the Top!" and "Give It to Me Straight." Pearson also ratchets up his voice so much that it's hard to tell whether he's possessed by a spirit or sending up his chosen style...or perhaps the songs he wrote.
Josh T Pearson decided to impose five pillars upon his songwriting for his second solo record The Straight Hits!, these being designed to clear the decks and break away from his musical past. Given what a prestigious past he's had, first with Lift To Experience and then through his devastating solo record Last Of The Country Gentlemen, the urge to expunge feels curious. It's possibly even more surprising to learn that he has opted in the main for a simpler approach this time.
Seven years ago, Josh T Pearson declared himself the Last Of The Country Gentlemen, wielding sparse, introspective songs almost as long as the beard he sported - and the silence that followed its release suggests an identity crisis of sorts seems to have partly fuelled the seven-year gap between …Country Gentlemen and The Straight Hits! Feeling "constricted" by the emotional outpourings that transfixed so many, Pearson has tried lightening up with a collection of shit-kicking songs designed to blow away the cobwebs - and, perhaps, anyone still looking to contemplate their navel at a time when, as Pearson sees it, no one is "really stepping up to spread joy". So why so humourlessly done? The 10 songs on The Straight Hits! bear ostensible hallmarks of cutting loose, but a pretentious self-penned Five Pillars of Songwriting hangs heavy above them. There's even an "unwritten" sixth pillar: rules are made to be broken.