Nottingham sensation Jake Bugg sprang upon us in 2012 with his double platinum self-titled album. He followed-up in 2013 with his Rick Rubin inspired Shangri-La that boosted his commercial radio appeal, but was somewhat of a disappointment compared to its predecessor. Now, after three years of festival appearances at the likes of Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds and T in The Park, he has returned this year with his third offering On My One.
On My One previews flashes of what propelled Bugg into the spotlight in the first place, he was fresh, unique and a bit rough round the edges. There was nobody at that time that sounded like him – unless you wanted to dust off your old Neil Young records. The problem for now for Bugg is, that uniqueness has faded away, because we’ve now had something that sounded like his first two albums, Bugg himself.
There are tracks in his newest album that sound new, fresh and interesting. The downside and problem he is facing what appears to be a slight identity crisis, in fact, it’s a huge identity crisis. Self-written and produced – bar three songs that were produced by Jacknife Lee – it is possible he has lost the guidance he maybe needs: he is after all still a mere 21 years of age, and with three albums under his belt is a great achievement.~
Jumping from the morose ‘Put Out The Fire’, there is the Gabrielle sounding ‘Never Wanna Dance.’ The beautifully orchestrated and vocally delightful ‘Bitter Salt’ somehow shares a place on the album with the quite bizarre rap-fused ‘Ain’t No Rhyme.’ An artist that clearly has the desire to progress forward with their music is to be applauded, but Bugg has taken that a step too far. Sure, the humdrum country chords and morose vocals needed a shake-up, as ‘Livin’ Up Country’ shows: but perhaps, one small step at a time would be more suitable.
Words by Andrew Shelley