YouTube Link: Ours, Joe Pug
Sometimes it can be detrimental, or even dangerous to love a set of songs too much. This happened to me with Joe Pug’s Nation of Heat EP, which I became so attached to that I found myself illogically predisposed to reject any new songs that Joe put out. Maybe its an effect of being burned too many times in the past decade by disappointing Springsteen albums, but I instinctively approached Joe’s new album The Great Despiser with weary skepticism when it came out. I assumed it couldn’t possibly match up to the wonderful songs in his back catalog. After all my cynicsm though, I turned out completely wrong. The new songs, against all odds, are just as good as his older ones, if not better. Joe’s ability to develop and grow as a writer and performer is pretty astounding, especially as he gets slowly more famous. Rather than basking in his modest limelight it seems to be motivating him to dig deeper, leading him to explore what makes him so good as a songwriter and vocalist.
This song, “Ours,” has everything I’ve always loved about his music: insightful lyrics that pack meaning into every carefully selected word, original and clever melodic patterns and a general feeling of unadorned, bare elegance that holds your attention without distracting from Joe’s poetry. Somehow he speaks in everyday language, employing universal description to relate sentiments that resonate far below the surface. He says things we’ve all thought and we all understand, but only someone with his talents can form into words. The ability to resist cliche and formula without resorting to drastic experimentation sets Joe apart from the droves of other meek guitar-strumming amateur philosophers out there, a feat much more impressive than most can appreciate. Listen to this whole album, its near flawless.