Chicago-based folkie Pug is the closest thing to Bob Dylan you might find in the digital era. On his first full-length, Messenger, the former university playwright student combines the inflection and telling details of Dylan, John Prine and Steve Earle, resulting in an assured mixture of lyrical grace and philosophical disorientation.

Pug strips his material down to essentials, sometimes just voice and acoustic guitar, which heightens his suggestive prose. Insulated mannerism and cryptic mystery runs through tracks like “The Door Was Always Open,” “The Sharpest Crown” and “The First Time I Saw You.” The album’s centerpiece is caustic war denunciation “Bury Me Far (From My Uniform),” which utilizes sparse and self-aware poetics that mirror Dylan’s use of language to illustrate Pug’s partial protest and part personal plea for peace.