Review: Joe Pug’s New Album ‘Sketch of a Promised Departure’
UPDATED: March 12, 2024
UPDATED: March 12, 2024

Joe Pug makes a triumphant return with his highly anticipated new album, Sketch of a Promised Departure. As is characteristic of Pug’s poetry, this album is rich with depth and complexity. Despite multiple listens, there’s still a couple of tracks that that evade my neanderthal brain’s ability to, well, understand what the fuck he’s talking about. However, although with a full backing band, Sketch of a Promised Departure feels more reminiscent of Pug’s earlier work, particularly his acclaimed album Nation of Heat, both in its sonic texture and structural composition. Overall, this album represents a positive step forward, reaffirming Joe Pug’s place in my top 10 list of favorite artists.

I have sung Pug’s praises here at RootsnReverly, whether it be his podcast The Working Songwriter (check out our article on The Working Songwriter here) or his natural ability to weave poetic parables. Pug is objectively one of the greatest lyrists of our generation and Sketch of a Promised Departure solidifies this further.

Songs and Lyrics

The album kicks off with the melancholic track Fast Asleep Inside of the Garden, leaving listeners intrigued by its deep, introspective tone. I haven’t a clue what the song means, but it sounds deep as shit. Pug’s pronunciation of “Iron” may come off as somewhat pretentious, but it’s just a reminder of his undeniable brilliance…..we get it Joe. Nevertheless, the track sets the stage instrumentally, with the album boasting a clean and beautiful arrangement dominated by stripped-back instrumentation including acoustic guitars, mandolins, Pug’s signature harmonica, and a rare banjo appearance.

True to form, Pug’s unique gravelly voice draws listeners into a world of authenticity and vulnerability, lending weight to his introspective lyrics. Throughout the album, Pug’s songwriting shines as he navigates the complexities of modern life, drawing parallels with the protest music tradition epitomized by Woody Guthrie. Tracks like Heroes Pass Us By explore the irony of heroism in modern times, while What Is Good Will Never Change harkens back to Pug’s earlier work with its foot-stomping hymnal rhythm reminiscent of Nation of Heat.

Standout tracks like Prisoners Song showcase Pug’s powerful harmonica skills as he weaves narratives touching on themes of innocence and the American private prison complex (I think?) Conversely, You’re Not a Secret offers a softer, hopeful note with its sweet love anthem accompanied by beautiful fingerstyle guitar injecting hope into this otherwise melancholic adventure.

Tracklist

  • Fast Asleep Inside the Garden
  • Heroes Pass Us By
  • Then the Rain
  • What Is Good Will Never Change
  • Brother John (Charcoal on Paper)
  • Treasury of Prayers
  • Prisoner’s Song
  • You’re Not a Secret
  • No Place a Good Man Can Hide
  • Descent From the Cross by Torchlight 

Final Thoughts

Overall, each track on the album is a testament to Pug’s talent for crafting intelligent, poignant, and thought-provoking folk music. While some listeners may find themselves scratching their heads at the meanings behind Pug’s lyrics, this ambiguity serves as a testament to his ability to create nuanced and subjective poetry. Hell, even the title is ambiguous. In an age where definitive answers are elusive, Pug’s artistry shines through, proving him to be a true artist capable of creating music that resonates with audiences on a deeply personal level.

Album Release: March 8, 2024       Label: Nation of Heat Records| Soundly Music

Favorite Tracks: Heroes Pass Us By, You’re Not a Secret

 

RootsnRevelry Grade:                           

For Tour and Merch: Follow Joe Pug

You may also be interested in The Tallest Man on Earth’s Henry St.

‘Passage Du Desir’ – Johnny Blue Skies – New Album Review

‘Passage Du Desir’ – Johnny Blue Skies – New Album Review

For those unacquainted, Johnny Blue Skies is the new alias of the legendary badass, Sturgill Simpson. Known for his genre-defying approach, Simpson now records under this fresh moniker, presenting his latest work, Passage Du Desir. Stugill Simpson Vs. Johnny Blue...

Vincent Mason Releases New Single: ‘Heart Like This’ (w/Review)

Vincent Mason Releases New Single: ‘Heart Like This’ (w/Review)

Vincent Mason, a burgeoning talent within the roots music arena, has just released his latest single Heart Like This. The poignant song delves into the harrowing aftermath of heartbreak once more, a theme that resonates deeply with his listeners. Released on July 5th,...

‘Long Way from Home’ – George Ducas – New Album Review

‘Long Way from Home’ – George Ducas – New Album Review

Renowned country music artist George Ducas, celebrated for his Billboard Top 10 hit Lipstick Promises, has an impressive track record of penning successful songs for legends such as George Jones, Garth Brooks, The Chicks, and Trisha Yearwood. Produced by the esteemed...

‘Bright Skyline’ – Matt Hillyer – New Album Review

‘Bright Skyline’ – Matt Hillyer – New Album Review

Matt Hillyer comes to the forefront with his new album Bright Skyline. Discovering great talent is always a thrill, and sometimes a humbling one when I realize I've overlooked a remarkable artist. Often, this talent hails from Texas—a state with a unique ecosystem of...

Eddie Flint Releases New Single: ‘Midnight Rider’

Eddie Flint Releases New Single: ‘Midnight Rider’

Eddie Flint, the rising country artist and active-duty U.S. Sailor, has released his heartfelt new single, Midnight Rider. The track is entirely written, recorded, and produced by Eddie, showcasing his multifaceted talent. This song tells the poignant story of his...

Troy Cartwright Releases New Single: ‘Lincoln Continental’

Troy Cartwright Releases New Single: ‘Lincoln Continental’

Country music sensation Troy Cartwright has released his highly anticipated new single, Lincoln Continental. The song tells the heartwarming love story of Cartwright's grandparents, brought to life through his soulful vocals and a captivating, groovy melody....

‘Fighting For’ – Evan Honer – New Album Review

‘Fighting For’ – Evan Honer – New Album Review

Evan Honer returns with his latest album, Fighting For, released on June 7, 2024. The new project showcases his growth as a songwriter and artist, featuring heartfelt lyrics and a blend of traditional instruments and modern sounds, proving he is a standout in the...

Sierra Ferrell To Headline at FloydFest’s New Site (2024)

Sierra Ferrell To Headline at FloydFest’s New Site (2024)

Sierra Ferrell is set to headline FloydFest 24 Horizon, bringing her unique blend of American roots music to the festival's new location in Floyd, Virginia. After the cancellation of FloydFest 2023 due to environmental regulation issues, anticipation for the event has...

Related Articles

‘Passage Du Desir’ – Johnny Blue Skies – New Album Review

‘Passage Du Desir’ – Johnny Blue Skies – New Album Review

For those unacquainted, Johnny Blue Skies is the new alias of the legendary badass, Sturgill Simpson. Known for his genre-defying approach, Simpson now records under this fresh moniker, presenting his latest work, Passage Du Desir. Stugill Simpson Vs. Johnny Blue...

‘The Great American Bar Scene’ – Zach Bryan – New Album Review

‘The Great American Bar Scene’ – Zach Bryan – New Album Review

Zach Bryan returns with his latest album, The Great American Bar Scene, releasing fittingly on the anniversary of our great nation July 4, 2024. True to Bryan's prolific pace, this album arrives just 10 months after his self-titled album, Zach Bryan. Comprising 19...

Vincent Mason Releases New Single: ‘Heart Like This’ (w/Review)

Vincent Mason Releases New Single: ‘Heart Like This’ (w/Review)

Vincent Mason, a burgeoning talent within the roots music arena, has just released his latest single Heart Like This. The poignant song delves into the harrowing aftermath of heartbreak once more, a theme that resonates deeply with his listeners. Released on July 5th,...

LEAVE YOUR OWN REVIEW IN THE COMMENTS: