Josh T Pearson, Monto Water Rats, London

Monto Water Rats, London

In 2001, Texas trio Lift to Experience released The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, an awe-inspiring double album that fused expansive, emotive post-rock guitars with Bible-bashing country music. Then they disappeared.

It's fallen to singer Josh T Pearson to make good on LTE's promise. The son of a southern preacher, he has got the look of a man who has wrestled with the devil and won by the skin of his teeth. True to his reclusive reputation, he strikes a Howard Hughes-like figure, wild-eyed with an imposing, unkempt beard and unruly hair hidden under a Stetson. Even as he tinkers with his guitar, his intensity is unmistakable. Alone on stage, Pearson closes his eyes, feeling his way into the song. But his impressive stillness is shattered when he passionately strums his too-loud electric guitar and ends up shouting over waves of distortion.

Having sorted out the sound, Pearson's battle for his soul begins. "I just couldn't get those devils off my mind," he sings, his voice staggering between vengeful roar and choked-up whisper as he pleads for salvation, his stripped-down authenticity wiping away thoughts of LTE and stirring memories of Jeff Buckley.

Pearson's solo album is yet to be made, but his unforgettable gigs have burned his music into the hearts of onlookers. Banished, his "country song", is a mood-lifter, with Pearson dipping into the chorus of Joy Division's Love Will Tear Us Apart, and he initiates a shriek-along to Devil's on the Run. Sermonising about God and greed, worrying about damnation and dancing with angels, Pearson may be the guardian of LTE's legacy, but he's carving out his own fearsome path.

· At Truck festival, Oxford (0845 6585520), tomorrow. Then touring.


Betty Clarke

The GuardianTramp

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