Joe Pug’s “Hymn #101” was one of my favorite songs of 2009. Pug has the kind of voice that sounds weathered and sweet all at once. He’s equally adept at singing songs about the women he loves and the personal struggles he (and everyone else) endure. Pug is a sort of troubadour for the everyman, as he proved with his Nation of Heat EP. His new full-length, Messenger, moves back and forth from tales of small-town America to infatuation and heartache. It might be the simplicity at play here that makes Pug’s frog-in-throat vocals so affecting. He is mostly accompanied by his guitar and some impressive harmonica work.
And that’s not even mentioning the strength of Pug’s lyrics. In “Not So Sure,” he conveys the pain of remembrance and regret with lines like this:
Definitely was a word I used far too much
Cause these days I’m not so sure
I bummed expensive cigarettes, I wrote John Steinbeck’s books
I undressed someone’s daughter, then complained about her looks
Stealing was so easy then, I wish that it still were
Now as I pick my own pocket
I note that these days I’m not so sure.
“Not So Sure” By Joe Pug (From Messenger, out now on Lightning Rod Records)
“How Good You Are” By Joe Pug (From Messenger, out now on Lightning Rod Records)
As fits Pug best, a simple and yet elegant video for “Hymn #101”
Laundromatinee.com is so great. Here’s a video Pug performing “Not So Sure” for them.