Jake Bugg Album Review
Mercury Records (UK) , Island Records (US)
Released: April 9, 2013 (US)
Genre: Indie Folk, Indie Rock
Nottingham Singer-Songwriter Jake Bugg unleashes undeniable talent and heart on his eponymous debut, where he draws influences from artists like Bob Dylan to The Beatles to Johnny Cash. His music overflows with authenticity but still holds true to his influences as he glides through his fourteen track album with ease and grace.
Opening the album is “Lightning Bolt” a charged, swaggering opener filled with Johnny Cash influenced instrumentation that introduces you to his world, style, and paradigm of life. His youthful vocals and lyrics keep this song as his own as he drifts frequently across the line of Cash’s musical territory. “Two Fingers” is an astonishing, catchy track that arrives unexpectedly considering its critical success and is probably the only track a non-Jake-Bugg fan has even heard of. Bugg flashes his departure from youth into adulthood, ironically as he “skins up a fat one, and hides from the feds” not yet old, but not too young.
On “Seen It All” the song opens with a night out in a bar but quickly escalates to violence and the night becomes intimate and horrifyingly lucid as “someone stabbed [his friend] with a knife”, quite a night for a kid of only 19. The track also boasts melodic passages and and great drumming, “seen it all” he says. Not quite Bugg.
Continuing on, the folksy tune “Simple As This” slows down as his strumming wraps around his words: he’s learning his lesson here, Bugg learns from his past and recounts his failures, disappointments and expectations, as melancholy violins round out the edges. Big dreamer we’ve got here. The track “Broken, album pinnacle, toned down drums and his malleable strumming quickly climaxes as he belts out with passion and emotion: “I’ll lead them over to your eyes”, Bugg’s ready to try again, growing from his past.
On “Slide” he shares his putative perceptions and the disappointing outcomes that followed, maturing. What Bugg dishes up here is reflective, authentic, heartfelt and solemn. It isn’t new but at his age it’s quite sudden and impulsive. But he’s learning and growing and in a way he gets better, interesting even.
I do however feel that what he gives on this LP isn’t really what he wanted to go for. Although Bugg is filled with talent and heart he does however lack ambition, maybe pretension even. The amazing songs on this LP really don’t vary much from the uptempo ones (Two Fingers, Taste It) to the slowed, subdued ballads (Slide, Country Song) and even emotional ones (Note To Self, Broken) really don’t bring enough risky edginess or ambition. From what Bugg has delivered he’s proven himself to be capable of so much more. Maybe a little distortion pedal or a drum fill or solo, any kind of subversiveness to his style could amp his game up and really cement his name on the music scene. On second thought, his name is already emblazoned on the music scene, some subversiveness could really light it on fire for the world to see.
Looking forward, Bugg is going to become big, his name striking marquees everywhere. If the words “JAKE BUGG WORLD TOUR” doesn’t pop up anytime soon, not only will his future will be finished, but the fall of a new, talented star and adorned musician will leave an empty, deserving gap in the hearts of many. This album will leave you content, refreshed and hooked. Hopefully even leaving you charitable for his cause but that’s already skyrocketing up and his reign is beginning.
PRETTY NEAT MUSIC
FAV TRACKS: Lightning Bolt, Two Fingers, Seen it All, Broken, Taste It, Slide
LEAST FAV TRACK: Note To Self