We mere mortals can only hope to be meager conduits for the grand themes of life – Love, hope, fear, death – these concepts are bigger then any one of us but that doesn’t stop the courageous and foolish from shaping these experiences into music and words.
Joe Pug, a Chicagoan sometimes-carpenter, is standing on the shoulders of Guthrie, Dylan, Van Zant, Prine, Clark, Simon and Young to join the ranks of present-day troubadours like Ryan Bingham, Willy Mason and Ray LaMontagne. Joe Pug’s songs belie this greenhorn’s recent foray into the craft of songwriting and his world-beaten voice belies his youth (early-twenties.)
“Hymn 101” is worth the price of admission alone. A trotting acoustic guitar supports the lyrics “I’ve come here to get high, to do more than just get by, I’ve come to test the timbre of my heart.” and “I’ve come here to meet the sheriff and his posse, to offer him the broad side of my jaw, I’ve come here to get broke, and then maybe bum a smoke, we’ll go drinkin’ two towns over after all.” This is goddamn staggering in its courage and rich in it’s symbolism.
“Call It What You Will” has a mournful mood that brings to mind Townes Van Zandt at his most melancholy. “I call today a disaster, she calls in December the 3rd” Pug sings being at once melodramatic and nonchalant. You can almost feel the whiskey and brimstone on Pug’s breath when he sings “I am the day, I am the dawn, I am the darkness coming on” on the harmonica laced Hymn 35
There is a timeless quality to this 7 song EP, like a found chest of remembrances in your grandparent’s attic, there are treasures for this that pay attention. And the foolish courage of man armed with only an acoustic guitar standing as a lightening rod for the ages is a wonder to behold.
Joe Pug performing Hymn#101