Published August 23, 2012
Joe Dubius is almost everything that a listener could want in a folk artist. Flaunting rough and tumble vocals (free of likeminded artist Ryan Adams’s hipper-than-thou posturing), he’s first and foremost a down-and dirty bluesman. And therein lies the issue. Dubius’s white-knuckled commitment to traditionalism leaves ‘Rainy Day In The Park’ on lockstep with the past, not honouring those who came before him so much as aping them.
Limited to talk of life on the road and all the wanton women, late night whiskey, and dubious companionship that life brings with it, Joe finds himself weighed down with tropes already explored thousands of times before. Which would be fine if we believed him for even a second. Perhaps in the age of the Internet it’s disingenuous to play the origin card, but Dubius’s lacquer-heavy tales of life untamed sound more like the product of a well-stocked audio/visual collection than any firsthand, hardscrabble knowledge.
At least he’s got the requisite technical chops. “One Horse Town” shows off a sophisticated strumming pattern, accented with a light harmonica accompaniment. Meanwhile the title track is a dark cabaret-style jam so slinky, you might be tempted to dance. Still, it’s tough not to feel like you’ve heard it all before.