Josh Pearson returns to the stage after contemplation years in desert

He emerged not too far back with a startling debut album as frontman of his band, then vanished for a number of years, but recently decided to return. Josh Pearson and his group, Lift To Experience, had mesmerized listeners with «The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads» in 2001, a paradoxical concept album with the Apocalypse as its basic theme. Then, just a couple of years later, it all ended abruptly. Fellow band member Josh Browning withdrew, an emotional wreck following the death of his wife, and, not long after, the band fell apart. Pearson went missing. Up until less than a year ago, nothing was known about the musician’s whereabouts, let alone whether he was alive or dead. His legend grew as younger acts began citing Lift To Experience as a basic influence. Then Pearson suddenly resurfaced, from the Texan desert where he had retreated for over two years of isolated contemplation and struggle. He is now preparing to put out a couple of solo releases and has begun performing too, with two shows in Athens, this Sunday and Monday at the Small Music Theater (33 Veikou, Koukaki, tel 210.924.5644) on the tour’s agenda. The son of a Texan preacher man, Pearson grew up in the desert listening to his father’s sermons and imagining a world in which Jesus conversed with Buffalo Bill, or where stories of the Apocalypse and the Wild West converged. For an artist who performs alone on guitar and vocals, Pearson is as loud as you can imagine a solo artist being. His work, which sounds like that of a desperate man, carries a cathartic quality. Loaded with lyrics of biblical images, blood in the desert, martyrs under hot suns, and devils, Pearson’s work could be interpreted as religious. But it is more about personal faith. He may be a believer in the power of God, but sings about the power of individuals. His former band’s one and only album was released by the high-caliber UK label Bella Union, run by ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde. Now that Pearson’s back, the bond is carrying on. He recently performed a series of shows as the support act for label mates the Dirty Three and, at times, even guested as the Australian trio’s unofficial fourth member. The label is preparing to release two new Pearson albums, one featuring covers and the other, new material.

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