Joe Pug – “Messenger”
Lightning Rod Records
– out Feb. 16
3 / 5

Chicago-based folk singer Joe Pug has been stirring the pot with his old-school Dylan-esque brand of one-man folk. And we might as well come out and say it: here at the blog, we love his EPs “Nation of Heat” and “In the Meantime,” which he’d been giving away for free. But somehow, the magic hasn’t translated as well on his first full-length, and here’s why: all the gritty emotional content, the incalculable lyricism has been replaced with the addition of drums and bass. To put this in terms of Dylan, it’s as if Pug has hit his 80s tailspin, striking a more mainstream-friendly, and less vital country sound in his music. The depth in his voice, which carried his two breakout EPs, simply is lacking, showing on the placid title track, though “Bury Me Far (From My Uniform)” is the most immediate and intimate of these tracks. Overall, the greatest disappointment comes from the anticipation of what could’ve been an authentic and necessary folk album. Pass, but pick up those EPs while you can.

Listen to “Messenger”:

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