Joe Lally There to Here

Relying mostly on his artful command of bass guitar and his measured voice, Fugazi’s Joe Lally has written a pointedly political record with There to Here, one of the most coherent musical statements of the year. Just as Ian MacKaye has turned down the volume with the Evens, Lally’s solo debut isn’t a high-energy affair. With contributions from members of Spirit Caravan, Rites of Spring, Hot Snakes, the Warmers, and MacKaye and Guy Picciotto of Fugazi, the record is bolstered by punk rockers keeping their volume and virtuosity in check. In fact, There to Here’s sparse, ambient tone enables listeners to focus mostly on Lally’s lyrics, which are thoughtful and provocative. Songs like "Reason to Believe,” "Pick a War” and "Message from Earth” contain allusions to war, corruption, and social and environmental collapse and their implications. "Lidia’s Song” and the a cappella "Sons and Daughters” reveal Lally’s perspective as both a frustrated citizen of the world and a father and husband trying to make sense of our collective course of action. The album’s words and music are often spare and bleak, but they also contain rich melodies, inventive rhythms, and a sincere mix of hope and despair, all of which easily draw listeners in. There to Here is not a raucous punk record but it is a powerful work by Joe Lally, a punk pioneer with taste and vision. (Dischord)