You know you’re in for a great singer/songwriter experience when said artist is based in Texas; Joe Pug has gone from being a carpenter in Chicago to the beloved performer he is today. Likened to folk talents such as Bob Dylan himself, Pug used to hand CDs out to his friends before he was picked up by Nashville indie record label Lightning Rod, releasing his two albums Messenger (2010) and The Great Despiser (2012) would involve playing over 400 shows to thousands, including a stint at the colossal Lollapalooza and Bonaroo festivals; on the darker side of post-touring, he grew weary of writing new music and began to question his profession. After time to reconnect with the world and a chance to write from the heart once again, Joe is back and at it with Windfall, his new album that is said to be his most intimate yet.
Bright Beginnings sets the tone well, the guitar is uplifting and Pug’s raw vocal line makes it all the more personal, his poetry glowing through the melody; almost like an autobiographical piece, Veteran Fighter could easily be about Joe’s struggle to write for this album, the melody deep and lifting enough to go on this journey of yearning for a brighter future. Stay and Dance convinces you to forget about what the unkind and unjust people have to say about you, with a wonderfully fingerpicked and strummed guitar line and assuring vocal part; The Measure is just as wonderfully written and delivered as its predecessors, there’s just something soothing about this album.
What is notable about this album is that it’s more subtly produced, Great Hosannas is probably the heaviest is gets, even though it’s only got the slightest of beats and arrangements.The country/folk twang is present in Burn and Shine, another addictive melody and bright guitar line to enjoy; O My Chesapeake is a slow but followable number, just the rawness of this album is stunning and captivating. Windfallen is another track of encouragement, where when you identify that you’re “in it for the long haul” there’s nothing you can’t do, all with another commendable arrangement; the smoothness of the melody in Pair of Shadows doesn’t contradict the somewhat gruff vocals, they both go hand in hand. Last but not least, lead single If It Still Can’t Be Found is warming to the ears with its wonderful little melody and the poetry of the lyrics.
What would Joe Pug’s music have been like if he rushed into his next release? It’s not healthy to force your creative work onto paper, it needs to feel like it is writing itself and occurs naturally; fortunately, Joe recognised his strain to meet deadlines was going to affect the quality of his work and ultimately his personal life. Windfall is beautifully written and put together, everything you could expect from an accomplished singer/songwriter who values his art; each song has a place, not one seems like it was there for the sake of being there, this is one collection of soothing melodies that will keep you listening from beginning to end. Joe Pug always writes in a relatable manner, if you can’t relate to Windfall then you need to listen again and pay attention to what he is saying. Fans of Joe, and new fans, will find that it was worth the wait.