Joe Pugliese, a Chicago singer/songwriter who records under the name Joe Pug, has already received recognition from great fellow artists who have brought him along on tour: Steve Earle and Josh Ritter, to name two. With references like that, it shouldn’t be startling that his debut full-length, Messenger, is extraordinary.
It’s a quiet album, but not a sad one, featuring short acoustic songs of even tempo sung beautifully, with lyrics that are both personal and profound. He sings love songs about “the girl with the sharpest crown . . . never took her picture ’cause she never learned to smile” and how “the first time I saw you/I saw someone that I knew/see I’ve seen myself a counterfeit/once you’ve seen a genuine/you never go back.” It’s hard to write about an album like this because it’s such a visceral experience. I can only say that this is probably the best acoustic album of the year; it blows Josh Ritter’s new one away, frankly, in its powerful simplicity.
I wish I could say more, but really, you’ve just got to hear this for yourself.
For fans of: John Prine, Sam Baker, The Grey Race.