Although the dependably dour Lou Barlow will never be mistaken for a Just For Laughs prizewinner, the Sebadoh and Folk Implosion frontman is not without a self-deprecating sense of fun.
He's called his latest solo disc Emoh, a cheeky reference to the label stuck on the mopey confessional subgenre of indie rock he helped - however inadvertently - establish.
Not that he's suddenly ready to embrace all that the somewhat dubious emo tag entails. Rather, on this first solo venture not recorded entirely at home, Barlow takes a long, hard look at himself after a life-altering move to Los Angeles, where he's about to become a father.
His decision to make this a Lou Barlow album instead of hiding behind the Sentridoh smokescreen he typically uses for his four-track vanity projects suggests a growing acceptance of himself as a credible artist and of the responsibilities that come with being an elder statesman of a generation of bedsit brooders.
It's also a wise marketing move.
"At first it seemed kinda lame to use my own name on the album," admits Barlow from his Los Angeles home, "but it was suggested that putting it out as a Sentridoh disc would be committing commercial and career suicide.
"After talking to family and friends, it seemed best to call it a Lou Barlow disc; otherwise, no one would know where to find it. I thought briefly of putting my face on the sleeve, but then I was like, 'No way! I'm not Johnny Cash! Hell, I'm not even Will Oldham!' But if you look closely at the back of the disc you can see my glasses, which should make it clear enough to everyone that the 'king of emo' has a new disc."
Speaking of Oldham, for his first solo recording venture in a real studio, Barlow didn't just walk into one of the many excellent nearby Los Angeles joints. He went all the way to Nashville to work at Beech House studios operated by Lambchop's Mark Nevers, where Nevers engineered Oldham's engagingly dark Master And Everyone album.
However, you'd never know by listening to the sensitively strummed songs of Emoh that there was any Nashville connection whatsoever, let alone that a third of the album was cut at country music ground zero.
But don't try telling Barlow that.
"What? Just because there's no fucking pedal steel guitar you think there's nothing country about it? That cracks me up! I'll have you know that in my own little world I consider the stuff I do totally country. That's where I derive my approach to songwriting and playing the guitar.
"My family is all from the South. In fact, my ancestors moved to this country in the 1700s and dispersed through the Appalachians, eventually working their way as far west as Ohio. So it seems to me I come by the country thing honestly, but I guess if I don't use a pedal steel no one will pick up on it.
"I grew up listening to my parents playing Johnny Cash and Glen Campbell records. Even during my teen years while I was getting into 60s garage rock and hardcore punk, I was simultaneously listening to Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton and the Louvin Brothers, too. All that music is equally important to me and has remained a constant in my life."
It's doubtful that anyone checking out Merge's forthcoming reissues of Dinosaur Jr.'s first three albums (due out March 22) and hearing Barlow screaming over his Rickenbacker bass-bashing will immediately think of the Louvins' close harmonies, but the re-release of those hugely influential recordings is nevertheless cause for celebration.
Even though Barlow didn't participate in the reissue process and wasn't even asked to contribute to the liner notes ("I think they got Thurston Moore to do that" he shrugs), he's nevertheless pleased to have the discs back in circulation.
"I've been disappointed over the years to see that the influence of J Mascis hasn't been properly acknowledged. I mean, J's guitar style, his use of vintage pedals and his audacious approach to overdubbing were widely copied. He changed the way people of our generation played guitar.
"When I picked up that Rolling Stone issue with the top 100 guitarists of all time and saw Kurt Cobain was, like, number eight, I thought J Mascis would be in the top 20 for sure. There was Kevin Shields, Thurston Moore, Black Francis, but J Mascis didn't even make the list.
"After My Bloody Valentine heard Dinosaur Jr., they did a complete aboutface and became Dinosaur Jr. That's the sound they perfected on the Loveless album. And what about Radiohead? The way they shift into the chorus on Creep is totally Dinosaur Jr. It's no coincidence that it was produced by Sean Slade, who engineered our Bug album in 88."
There have already been whispers of a Dinosaur Jr. reunion show. While Barlow hasn't been on the best of terms with his former bandmates since 89 - when they told him they were breaking up, only to reconfigure with a new bassist in Australia weeks later - he sounds like he's up for it.
"I've met with J a few times over the last couple of years, and it was all positive," says Barlow, "so for me, the hatchet's buried.
"I know J's manager has been making calls about a reunion, because he spoke to my wife and she volunteered me. We've got a baby on the way, so it seems wise to take any opportunity for some extra income."