Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

Album Review: Joe Pug – In the Meantime

The brash, fearless lyrical mastermind is here for the long term and as proof he offers up his second consecutive free ep. For the price of getting on the Joe Pug email list, you get this. And it pays off: his fan base keeps building, the gigs keep getting better and better and he hasn’t shown any indication of selling out. As usual, it’s just Pug, his guitar and his harp, hammering on the strings and blowing til the reeds distort, his voice closer to Steve Earle than the John Prine-inflected style he was mining on his brilliant debut Nation of Heat (very favorably reviewed here). Because of the instrumentation, a lot of people will call this Dylanesque, and it is, but there’s a whole lot more going on here.

 

The opening cut is Dodging the Wind, a defiant 6/8 ballad. It’s an apt anthem for anyone who belongs to the ones who got away: “When you think of the kid who left when you did, he too will be thinking of you.” The title track is a pensive, fingerpicked cheating ballad: “We’ll be honest to each other – meaning you,” Pug sardonically rasps. The metaphors never stop: the house will never be built for lack of lumber, and he ends up sleeping in the closet, hiding from the cops.

 

Lock the Door picks up the pace: it has bass and drums. Like Rosalita by Springsteen, the protagonist here just won’t take no for an answer, but he makes his point in about seven fewer minutes:  

 

Who’s that man knee-deep in sand waiting on the tide

With an atlas and a ladder, undaunted from the height

Lock the door, I’m standing on your porch tonight

 

A Thousand Men is the most overtly Dylanesque cut here, rich with history, Pug alluding to the famous Gilbert Stuart portrait of George Washington as he teases the listener:

 

See Thomas Jefferson on the eve of Bunker Hill

Writing words to die for, writing sentences to kill

They’ve come to paint his portrait

So he grabs a chair and sits

As the surgeon orders cotton

For a thousand tourniquets

 

Pug knows that virtually all inventions were devised for waging war: “Every good idea kills at least a thousand men,” and Pug’s thinking he’s probably number 1001.

 

The ep wraps up with the catchy Black Eyed Susan “When you look right through me I wonder what’s behind my back.” Pug is blowing up right now – this year’s nonstop tour includes Bonnaroo, Lolapalooza and the Newport Folk Festival. Don’t be the last one on your block to find out about the guy.

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July 8, 2009 Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment