Jake Bugg - On My One (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
JAKE Bugg’s third album marks a return to the high quality of his rapturously received eponymous debut – and could well become one of the albums of the year.
Bugg wrote all 11 songs, played most of the instruments and produced all but three (where Jacknife Lee stepped in), and it’s further evidence of just how prodigiously talented this young singer-songwriter is.
What’s more, the diversity is notable too. This changes tempo with abandon, nods to influences, yet sounds resolutely fresh and exciting too. It’s a statement of intent from Bugg that should win him more followers and plaudits.
Early evidence of the quality was to be found on lead single Gimme The Love, a blistering guitar anthem that propelled its way into your subconscious amid some powerhouse beats, gritty super-charged vocals and those electrifying riffs. It was an instantly gratifying track – reminiscent of classic Primal Scream mixed with The Stone Roses. And yet it retained the Bugg signature elements in thrilling style too, complete with anthemic chorus.
But if that was a suitably mouth-watering taster, then the main course is just as sumptuous. Opening salvo On My One is a brilliant stage-setter, a moody, stripped back blues offering that declares “I’m just a poor boy from Nottingham” before adding “I’m so lonesome on my one”. It’s a song that reflects the loneliness of life on the road and it almost makes you feel sorry for him, if it relates to his own feelings. There’s a beautiful despondency to it, especially in lyrics that ask: “Where’s God, where’s God, he’s even left me on my one.”
Gimme The Love immediately follows and delivers an early adrenaline blast. But it’s followed by the no-less impressive Love, Hope And Misery, another single, which drops another doozy of a chorus. It’s bittersweet in lyrical content and has a soul-rock vibe reminiscent of recent Arctic Monkeys, albeit laced with the distinct vocal style that Bugg brings to his material. And it’s another gem.
Strong, too, is the acoustic-blues of The Love We’re Hoping For, which recalls a tale of repressed love and isolation. It’s terrifically moody and evidence of Bugg’s astute story-telling ability.
Later on, there’s a somewhat ’70s groove style to be found on Never Wanna Dance, which finds Bugg experimenting successfully with something more soulful and pop, while the foot-stomping Bitter Salt is a belter that builds towards a rousing chorus in spite of lyrics that are informed by the bitterness of the sorry tale it tells. The guitars here are fiery whenever they blast out angrily, while the central chorus refrain of “it’s on, it’s on, it’s on” is sure to become one of the great live chants of any Bugg concert.
The hip hop element Bugg alluded to in recent interviews is evident on Aint No Rhyme, which admittedly takes some getting used to, but which benefits from a very hip beat (clearly referencing Beastie Boys-style rock-rap) and Bugg’s fearless attitude. You can’t help but succumb.
His passion for country is evident on both Put Out The Fire and, later on, Livin’ Up Country, which again nods to some of his influences, whether Crosby, Stills & Nash, Tom Petty or Rolling Stones. The chorus on the latter track is particularly affecting and steeped in classic country-rock values.
There’s more intimacy on the slow-burning acoustic balladry of the heartfelt All That, a dusky offering of high quality, before Hold On You rounds things off with another satisfying mid-tempo foot-tapper. If we’re being ultra picky, the album could have done with a bigger finale. But this’ll do nicely and it’s a solid offering, especially when the guitar solo lands.
All in all, Bugg has delivered the second great album of his short career to date. It recaptures that early excitement of listening to him while furthering his sound into ever more intriguing areas. Don’t let it pass you by.
Download picks: On My One, Gimme The Love, Love, Hope & Misery, Bitter Salt, Aint No Rock, Livin’ Up Country