Pearlene: For Western Violence and Brief Sensuality
Ten seconds into the barrelhouse piano and greasy slide guitar of “Hosannah”, I wondered whether I had unearthed some old Mick Taylor / Nicky Hopkins outtake by mistake. Y’know, the kind that somehow would have been cool enough for Exile On Main Street‘s spiritual country swamp but rejected in the end because the sacred braintrust didn’t have writing credit. Pearlene is a glob of mid-70s alt-country skeletons, the fringe path that only Neil Young continued to tap until the recent reniassance spearheaded by bands like Buffalo Killers, Radio Moscow and Thee Shams. The production is a thick gauze that makes Reuben Glaser’s vocals seem haunted and driven, yet permits the guitar to scrape the sky with clarity.
The band is lockjaw tight, but their secret weapon is the Hammond and piano work from Andrew Higley, transforming an already brilliant approach into a gritty, soulful soundscape worthy of the classic Fillmore shows. The road ends with a soft close in “Shot”, where the stripped down Delta blues roots of co-founders Glaser and Jesse Ebaugh shine through with authenticity. Ominous, uplifiting, creepy and invigorating, this is the sound of a band that took the dirt road on purpose because they knew better. Somebody get these guys on the bill with the Allmans or Crowes and watch the disciples fall from the sky like rain.