Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg
Buy: Jake Bugg
As soon as the first electrifying chorus of album opener ’Lightning Bolt’ hits you, it’s clear that 18 year old Nottingham scamp Jake Bugg is more than your average acoustic guitar-toting snooze-merchant. Jake Bugg is in fact the real deal – energetic, charismatic, soulful and poetic, with that rare songwriting ability to capture everything that’s significant in the simplest way possible.
The Bob Dylan comparisons have followed Bugg around since he started making waves earlier this year and, while they’re not totally misplaced, they don’t do the breadth of his influences justice. A quick blast through this album and you hear a wealth of influences that sounds like a who’s who of British music over the past 50 years – from The Beatles and Stones through to The Smiths, The La’s, Oasis, The Coral, The Libertines, Arctic Monkeys, Miles Kane and a few more I’ve not quite put my finger on yet.
Usually, a list of comparisons like that would result in this sentence ending with the word ‘unoriginal’, but in the case of Jake Bugg it ends with ‘inspired’. The album’s not a total world-beater though, thanks mostly to the overly-simple production rendering some sections a bit samey, but it’s not far off – and above all it positions Jake Bugg head and shoulders above the likes of Ed Sheeran and Frank Turner as the most exciting male singer-songwriter around.
The highlight of the album is undoubtedly the mesmerisingly simple ballad ’Broken’, followed closely by ’Ballad Of Mr Jones’, a moody narrative mixing the razor-sharp observations of Alex Turner with the gothic atmospherics of Nick Cave.
Out of the 14 songs on Jake Bugg, about 10 of them are not just good – but absolutely brilliant. The side gets let down slightly by the lack of variation, but when you’re this good that’s not really a problem.