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"I play music because I love it and I'll keep playin' till I'm old."
One of my friends looks exactly like Jake Bugg. I'm not joking, he is his absolute double! Anyway, last year everyone in our friends group and even some of his family kept calling him Jake as a joke. I was completely bemused and just thought it was some random inside joke. Then one day he showed me a picture on his phone and I thought it was weird because he looked a bit different and that's when he told me that the guy in the picture was Jake Bugg. He was shocked that I had never heard of him. I didn't even believe that the guy in the picture wasn't him, and that's when he put one of Jake's songs on - Lightning Bolt. I hated it and told him to stop playing it, and never really gave it much thought since.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago and I was sat plonked in front of the television flicking through the channels and the video for Jake Bugg's 'Broken' came on. The video doesn't show him straight away and I wasn't sure which music video it was so I carried on watching it and that's when I realised it was him. I decided to carry on watching purely out of amusement at how much he looked like my friend, but I ended up actually loving the song and buying his album! The first song of his that I ever heard (and at the time hated) is now one of my most played on iTunes, and his album is a current favourite of mine and one that I regularly listen to. I love his voice. Love love LOVE it! He's got a rowdy, cheeky chappy side to him and suprisingly, considering his age, a sensitive, mature side which both work really well together and shine through in his songs making them very unique.
Jake is now nineteen years old. He rose to fame back in 2011 at the tender age of seventeen after appearing on the Glastonbury 'introducing' stage, which reminds me a bit of how Ed Sheeran became so well known and popular - and Jake is definitely in the same league as him. I know that the age of him might put some people off of even giving his music a chance but he has a much older, wiser voice and his lyrics are full of life experience and emotion. He is certainly not your typical teenage music artist. Jake if I'm honest always seems a little bit away with the fairies in most of the interviews I've watched him in and that's why I didn't like him too much at first but after listening to his songs I just 'get' him, he tells stories so well and the stuff he says its like reading my mind sometimes. He writes all of his songs himself as well so they're all very authentic, original, truthful and unique, and although he doesn't really give much away in interviews (anyone who has watched an interview with him should know what I mean) he really pours out his heart in some of his songs, and the mystery that he has to him makes his songs more interesting to listen to to try and figure out more about him and learn more about his life.
Most of his songs are about his experiences in life. Although most of his songs tell a story most need piecing together a little with clues in the lyrics and the tone in his voice, rather than being simple to understand which I think is really unusual and it means I never get bored listening to his songs, even once I've worked out what he's actually talking about I can listen to him over and over again listening to the tone in his voice, the pitch of the guitar, and so on. Jake was raised by a single mother which is something we have in common and it makes me like him even more for some reason. He was born in Nottingham, England and grew up there. He lived on the Clifton council estate and had no interest in music until he was around twelve years old, which was when he began to play the guitar. it is nice that his British accent comes through at some points in his songs, it makes me proud that he's from somewhere that is quite near me and he's so talented and has done well for himself. Some of Jake's main influences include: Oasis, The Beatles, Coldplay, Nick Young and Nick Drake.
This is Jake's debut album and it is very simply titled Jake Bugg. The album was released in late October 2012 and it is now certified platinum. The album has got 14 songs on it including 7 singles and fhe total playtime is almost fory minutes long. The album has got a mix of different tracks covering different topics and sounding quite different, I'd best describe his artless as folk mixed with modern rock 'n' roll, some songs are verging on blues & indie, and there's a very nice selection of songs. I have to say though that two of the songs do sound quite similar instrumental wise but with different lyrics but they're still brilliant songs. The album art is nice and simple, it is a black and white picture of Jake looking into the camera.
*Availability and Cost*
Jake's album is available in vinyl, digital format and of course CD format. I have the digital format which I paid £10 for which I think is good value for an album with 14 full length tracks. My friend (the Jake Bugg lookalike!) has the vinyl which was around £30 I believe. I have listened to every song on the album at least five times, so I have no doubt gotten my money's worth and more! The album can be purchased from supermarkets, iTunes, and pretty much anywhere that sells CD's - including online (Amazon, Play etc). Individual songs from the album are also available from iTunes for 99p each.
Jake's voice is beautiful with a nice rough edge. He has been compared to people like Bob Dylan and Jonny Cash but his voice is completely unique in my opinion. Listening to him is like being taken to to a modern version of the 1970's or something (I wasn't even born then) and being at a festival surrounded by hippies; peace and love & all that! Even though he is only 19 his voice and the way he talks is so wise and kind of old fashioned but in a good way, a couple of his songs, 'seen it all' in particular really do sound like they're been sang by someone much older with much more life experience. Jake's voice in most of his songs is relaxed, but still full of emotion and easy to understand/relate to. In some songs his voice is a little more high pitched than others but I never listen to him and think 'his voice sounds funny' like I do with some other folk singers, his voice really suits the style of his songs and lyrics.
On one of his songs when I first listened to the album I was quite shocked because he really upped the game and leapt out of his usual vocal range into a gorgeous chorus. This is one of my favourite songs and it shows his more gentle 'pop' side, but even when he's almost singing like a pop star he can not be compared to them, he's in a total league of his own. His voice shows emotion very well and you can feel that the things he is singing about are true and close to his heart, he isn't just singing about nonsense to churn out songs and earn as much money as possible. He puts One Direction, Justin Bieber and all of the other highly auto-tuned rubbish to shame and his voice and words will appeal to people of all ages, the things he talks about are quite deep and have certainly helped me come to terms with some of my emotions and helped guide me through darkness. His music will not appeal to everyone, but I personally love it.
There are 14 full length songs (no skits) on this album so there is certainly plenty of choice and even if you're not keen on one or two of the songs there's still plenty more to enjoy. The album does have variety, however I do think that two of the songs are quite similar sounding, though they're both still unique because of the lyrics being very different in each one and the instrumentals are not identical, just slightly similar. Although I admittedly prefer some more than others, I love all of the songs and can quite easily listen to the album from track one to track fourteen without skipping a single track and not feeling one bit bored. The album is almost forty minutes long from start to finish and I find that when I'm listening to it it does help to pass the time so I am definitely going to buy it in CD form too so that I can have it in the car to help pass the time and keep me entertained.
The songs on the album are all have very high quality audio and I have not had any problems with sound distortions, skipping or anything like that, the sound is crisp and clear. The songs cover many topics, as I have already mentioned a majority of them focus on Jake's life experiences, which includes talk of love, and lots of talk of drugs! Drugs are not particularly glorified in the album however it is clear that Jake is a fan. Personally this didn't put me off of the album or any of the songs, mainly because the references are quite discreet, and if someone such as my young son is with me when I am listening to the album I don't feel that he is going to pick up any drug-related words as the references are not too obvious unless you listen properly to the lyrics.
The first song on the album is Lightning Bolt. It makes sense that this is the first song on the album - firstly because it is a really fast paced, feel good song which is easy to sing along to and get you in a good mood, and secondly because it is one of his more well known songs so people will instantly recognise it and get into the swing of the album straight away. This is good choice for a first track in my opinion as the song is easy to listen to and easy to sling along to too as it is so well known. Lightening Bolt is 2 minutes and 24 seconds in length - the perfect length of time really, any longer and I think I would get a bit bored of the chorus as it does seem like the chorus is repeated a lot throughout the song - I do like the chorus but it could easily start to get on my nerves after a while. The song is straight away very recogniseable from the minute it begins and as soon as it begins to play on the radio I know exactly which song it is. The song doesn't really have an obvious meaning but because it is catchy and quite fun to listen to I don't think many people really give the lyrics much thought.
Personally, after listening to the song many times and listening to the lyrics I think that the song is all about taking a chance, grabbing an opportunity and not being one of those people in life who stick to the same routine and don't dare live a little - the people who, in Jake's own words, ''walk around with gritted teeth''. This is a a fun, upbeat easy listen to song with a nice mix of folk and rock 'n' roll and I give the song four out of five stars. I have knocked one star off because as I said it does get a bit repetitive which soon becomes a bit annoying at times. The second song on the album is Two Fingers. This is a little bit longer than the first track at 3 minutes and 16 seconds long.The combination of the instruments and Jake's vocal tone in this song remind me so much of song that I heard years ago and I can not think for the life of me what song it was, but even so I like this one more I love this song - everything about it is perfect especially jake's voice because he sings a little different in this one in a less folky/country voice but its still got a subtle country twang to it. I especially like the meaning behind this song, the meaning is very easy to understand from listening to the song so again it is easy listening and doesn't need analysing too much to understand it. The song has a positive message to basically move on from the dark times in your life and forgive and forget. As someone who has had a tough time in life the lyrics speak volumes to me and make me feel uplifted and refreshed, and it gives me comfort that someone as successful as Jake has had tough times in the past because it shows you can get over negative things.
The phrase "hold two fingers up to yesterday" always makes me smile and is a good way of looking at things, as this is a reference of saying F-you to everything negative and just not letting it bother you and moving on. The song has a nice light hearted feel to it, and always leaves me feeling happy and uplifted. In this song we get to hear a little about what Jake got up to in his younger years running wild with his friends on the council estate where he lived, and the song is about jake getting out of the situation he was in eg in with the bad crowd and just getting out of the area he lived and doing better for himself, working hard and becoming famous - the lyrics 'I got out, I got out and I'm here to stay' are spoken with such emotion that I am able to hear his determination and proudness. There are a few hints to perhaps some domestic violence though the positive tone of the song easily disguises this, so this song again is a very feel-good song.
It is easy to sing along to and although the meaning behind it is quite a deep one the happy tone of the song means it doesn't need reading into and if you don't want to listen to it properly and instead just want a bit of lively background music then this is ideal - it can be either listened to with understanding-ness and admiration or just sung along to without a second thought. I give this song give out of five stars for the quirky instrumentals, cleverly thought out, honest lyrics and the quirky vocals, which stop the song from becoming deep and 'depressing'. The third song on the album is Taste It - another one that I completely love and by this point in the album my throat is usually sore from singing along non stop! Taste it is 2 minutes and 24 seconds long. Just like two fingers, this is another very upbeat song and I love the meaning behind it - Jake is talking about leaving everything he knows to go off and betrer himself and move away from where everything negative in his life.
Although he knows he wants to move on and not be stuck there forever he finds it hard because it is everything he knows including what sounds like his girlfriend or at least that's how I perceive the song - 'I can taste it, in my mouth it's just so bitter sweet, it's right there in your eyes of apple green, it should be easy, but it's hard to leave'. The chorus is very easy to sing along to and the vocals in this are powerful and the song always catches my attention and has me singing along in no time. I give this song five out if five stars - I really can't fault it. Track four on the album is Seen It All which is 2 minutes and 50 seconds long. Yet again I love this song and have played it on repeat many times, more so than most of the other tracks. Actually I think it has to be my ultimate favourite. The song is quite vintage sounding like something you'd hear in the 60's or 70's and when I first heard it I instantly fell in love, not only with Jake's voice but also the story and meaning of the song. The story in this one is very easy to follow, it is quite an upsetting one and I wonder if its actually true - I hope not. It is about drug taking, getting on the wrong side of some local gangsters and witnessing a murder.
Jake talks in first person throughout the song so it is like he is taking us on the journey with him almost and seeing things through his eyes, you can sense the naivity in his voice. The song is bizarrely comical in some points especially where Jake is talking about feeling weird after taking 'a pill or maybe two' which makes me smile everytime he I hear him say it, but this along with the upbeat instrumentals and fast paced singing does not really save it from being one of the more shocking and slightly depressing songs on the album. However, it is well balanced and not too dreary thanks to the surprisingly upbeat pace and tone of the song so I am not going to knock a star off - as I said it is one of my favourites and I give it five out of five stars. Track five on the album is Simple As This which is 3 minutes and 19 seconds long. This is a pure country song, much more gentle and soothing than most of his others and his voice sounds distinctly different than it does in other songs such as seen it all, like he's left behind his rowdy side and the emotions from his seemingly harsh upbringing for a while and let his more gentle, naive side out to play for a bit.
I do really like this song but it is not really one of my favourites because he sounds so different. although the lyrics are sensitive and gentle they don't have much meaning to me and the song doesn't sound like it is comig from jakes heart like a majority of his other songs do, this is of course just my opinion and I'm sure some people love the song, I don't mind it and find it easy to sing along to but I am going to knock two stars off of my rating for it - three out of five stars. The sixth song on the album is Country Song , which is 1 minute and 49 seconds long. It opens very gently, and Jake's voice throughout is beautifully delicate and almost like a lullaby as it is very calming and softly sung but still full of emotion. There's no doubting that this is a love song and it is hard to believe when listening to this that jake is a nineteen year old lad from Nottingham as he has such a wisdom, heartache and wiseness to his voice. His voice in this reminds me a little of Johnny Cash. Though I like this song it is a little too slow for me and for this reason I am going to knock two stars off - three out of five stars. The seventh song in the album and another one that I love is Broken, which is quite a long one at four minutes and seven seconds long.
I do love this song and it was the first of his songs that I fell love with. I find it nice to listen to when I want to listen to a more gentle song of his but I have to say it is a little depressing! Nevertheless I like it, and it has a very deep meaning to it. After listening to it and listening to the lyrics properly I had a feeling it was about someone close to him dying so I googled it and it turns out that the song is about a girl called Sophie - one of jake's friends who committed suicide. It is a sad song and it is obvious that the song holds a lot of emotion for him. It shows a more serious side to him and makes me love him even more - I have a lot of respect for him being able to cope with something as awful as that and being brave enough to share it with his fans who could perhaps be going through a bereavement or suffering from suicidal thoughts, and this shows how losing someone effects someone; he feels broken without her, hence the song tittle.. Four out of five stars - I think my mood would be rock bottom if I listened to this too often, but I really do like it.
Track eight on the album is Trouble Town which is two minutes and 50 seconds long. This song is another nice upbeat one and I love the way he pronounces the words in the chorus! When singing along to it I really struggle to say it like he does for some reason but I like the way he says it. Living in a relatively small town this song makes complete sense to me and really rings some bells with experiences I've had; "in this trouble town, word soon gets round". The the tale of been somewhere you hate - a bad area, stuck in a rut, but you can't get out. This is another song which gives us a taste of Jake's life before fame, and the song reminds me a bit of 'we'll live and die in these towns' but of course with much different lyrics and vocals. I'm sure this song will make sense to a lot of people and the line 'where the only thing that's pretty is the thought of getting out' always makes me smile. This is a fast paced, relatively fun and in my circumstances relateable song - five out of five stars. The next track - track nine is Ballad of Mr Jones. This is 2 minutes and 39 seconds long. This song is one of my least favourites. It tells a short, simple story which touches on the justice and legal system, and how it can sometimes fail victims of crimes.
Jake talks about how three young men get away with murdering a man's wife. It's a bit grim but if you don't listen to the lyrics it's easy to just bob along to and relax, though because of the lyrics being a tad depressing I tend to skip it if I'm not feeling particularly chirpy in the first place! I prefer the songs which are more personal to jake and more realistic rather than him tying to cover more gruesome topics but the vocals are good it's just the lyrics that I am not keen on. Three out of five stars. Slide is the tenth song on the album and it is 3 minutes and 8 seconds long. This is a beautiful, powerful song. It has moments where it is lovely and calm but it then builds up again and it is a really good listen it is not one that gets boring after a while because the tone changes often,, and it is one which really stands out to me. It is a love/break-up song which is emotional but still a pretty easy listen and not too deep, though I am in a happy relationship so for people who are going through a break-up they might find it a bit harder to listen to or they will find it relatable and comforting. It is not the most catchy song or very easy to sing along to in my opinion so I am going to knock one star off and give it four out of five stars.
Track eleven is Someone Told Me. This is 2 minutes and 36 seconds long, and it is a heartbreak song about how Jake can't be with the girl he wants to be with, because she's with someone else - it reminds me a lot of the days where I lusted after the guys I couldn't have! It's a very emotional, gentle song and its one of my favourites. It's not really got any positive aspects to it though so it is another slightly depressing song but I do really like it and I always feel sorry for him whenever I listen to it! His voice is very country & blues in this and he shows his much softer side and I admire him for singing softer songs like this when he comes across as quite a bad boy, rock 'n' roller toughie in interviews. I'm going to give it four out of five stars, knocking one star off because it is a bit dreary which I don't mind too much but no doubt some people will. 'Note to Self is the twelfth track on the album. It is two minutes and 40 seconds. It's a really sweet little love song and the way it is sung means it sounds like Jake is talking to the listener.
The addition of the violin type instrument adds a different, unusual sound to the song and it is a nice change from the usual guitar and bass, and I like that the rhythm gradually picks up but drops again when it comes to the more emotional parts. The song is all about body confidence and loving who you are, He is telling the girl in the song to love themselves as they are, and the way it is written and sung makes it so that he is talking to the listener pretty much. As mentioned previously jake had a friend who committed suicide and I think that to a degree there was some thought of her in this song when he wrote it. He proves himself to be a real little sweetie in this song and its a nice easy listen and Iove the message behind it. Five out of five stars . Track thirteen is Fire. It is 1 minute and 45 seconds and ends the album perfectly. It's simply about longing for someone/lusting after someone. An easy listen and again, such beautiful vocals. Five out of five stars. Track fourteen - the final song on the album is Someplace - another heartbreak song about wanting to be with a girl who is in love with another man. The song is a nice way to end the album and although it is not one of my favourites it is nice enough and I give it three out of five stars. Out of all of the songs, I'd say that my top five favourites are as follows: two fingers, seen it all, broken, lightning bolt and trouble town.
By far one of the best albums I own - and I own too many to count. It is also a popular album amongst my group of friends and will appeal to people of all ages - me and my Mum watched Jake at reading festival and he sang most of the songs from his album and she loved it! Jake Bugg is a very talented young guy and I think he deserves all of the regocnition he can get. It is a shame that although he has gained a lot of recognition some people still have not heard of him or given any of his songs a listen and I would urge anyone reading my review to give this album a listen of it sounds like your kind of music. I like the songs, however there are a few I'm less keen on mainly because some are a little too dark and dreary for me, which is why I have knocked one star off. There are no major faults with the album though and I can't think of one song on it that I really don't like! Another reason why I've knocked one star off is I feel that in some of the more folky songs Jake's voice comes across as slightly forced like be is trying his best to get his voice perfect, he sounds better when the words just flow. It is rumoured that Jake will be releasing his second album at some point this year and I can not wait to hear what it sounds like! Overall, I am going to give this album four out of five stars - very highly recommended.
When I first heard this song I thought it was something from the fifties! I was shocked to find out that the singer was in fact eighteen!
I went ahead and purchased the album from a well known store. I wasn't disappointed that's for sure.
If you like Bob Dylan or even just general acoustic music, then this album is for you.
He writes all of his songs and some of the lyrics are just genius!
Once you listen to it once you won't be able to stop listening to it. This artist will become very big one day.
My favorite song on this album is probably Trouble Town. It has the old sound of a Johnny Cash era classic mixed in with a Miles Kane sound. It's very unique.
I have recommended this to many of my friends and all of them have said exactly the same.
It has fourteen songs on the whole album. All of them with a different quality.
Overall I would give this Album a 10/10.
Jake Bugg is a singer/songwriter from the English city of Nottingham. At just 19 years old he stormed on to the scene after a good initial fan base grew stronger when songs like "Country Song" appeared on television adverts and "Lightning Bolt" was released to radio.
There are 14 tracks on the album and the tracks range from 1 to 4 minutes in length. This is Jake Bugg's first studio album. 1) Lightning Bolt 2) Two Fingers 3) Taste It 4) Seen It All 5) Simple As This 6) Country Song 7) Broken 8) Trouble Town 9) Ballad Of Mr Jones 10) Slide 11) Someone Told Me 12) Note To Self 13) Someplace 14) Fire
I paid £9.99 for my album from HMV at the end of last year.
I can only describe the album design as being in a "sepia" colour. The front shows a close up of Jake in a black jacket on a street with the title "Jake Bugg" in capitals in the corner. The back of the album shows Jake in the same street but the image is zoomed out, we now see a guitar case by his side. The tracks are listed in the top left hand corner in a white coloured font. The disc shows Jake with cigarette in hand and guitar case by his side. The booklet included inside the album includes the lyrics to every song which I personally appreciate when buying an album.
IS IT GOOD?
Yes. Very good in my opinion. For somebody more into their dance music as well (though I do have a varied taste) I fell completely in love with the album. Jake has been likened to Bob Dylan and although I'm no expert I would certainly go along with that likeness. His songs seem almost beyond his age and he really tells a story with each track. Songs like "Lightning Bolt" and "Trouble Town" are more upbeat and will have you instantly tapping your feet whilst "Ballad of Mr Jones" and "Broken" are more sombre. Overall the album is a really good mix and a refreshing sound that has been missing from the airwaves for years in my opinion.
My favourite tracks are probably Taste It, Trouble Town and Note To Self.
WOULD I RECOMMEND?
I would certainly recommend to anybody already into this genre of music but I would also recommend to somebody looking for something a little bit different.
I've seen great musical hopes come and go over the years, but from time to time I can still get excited by the potential in some new acts. One of my latest favourites is the debut album by Nottingham's (UK) finest, 18 year old Jake Bugg.
I guess in common with acts like Amy Winehouse, Bugg has the advantage of a striking image and look and music which is new to the young and familiar and hummable to us more experienced types.
Bugg seems to take influences from the likes of Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash. His debut album is largely sparse vocals and guitar. While the sound emits a rosy glow of the past, Bugg's lyrics are of a street fighter (and yes he writes or co-writes his own songs).
We recently saw Bugg perform his album live at the Barbican in York. While I think Bugg needs to improve his confidence (his between song comments were limited and stilted, but he is still a teenager) his musical ability shone out. For an encore he did Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues and it was good to hear someone so young nail those low notes.
It was a little frustrating that some of the audience appeared to want to chatter through the quieter songs (I can think of more comfortable places for a chat) but I guess there are those that wanted to see him purely because he is the next big thing rather than for his music. I was also rather amused that one person behind me exclaimed how happy she was that he was playing "all his hits". I didn't have the heart to point out that Bugg has one album and was simply playing "all he had".
Jake Bugg: Jake Bugg
What particularly impresses me in these days of sound bites and snippets of songs, the whole album hangs together as a coherent and complete piece. In the first time in ages I can't imagine playing one song in isolation.
Two Fingers, the catchy almost hit is a lovely song where Bugg reflects on how tough his life might be if he were back in Nottingham with no prospects just drinking and smoking himself into oblivion. As someone who was a teen during Thatcher's darkest hour, I can picture this lack of hope and prospects with complete clarity. Bugg brings out something of a Marc Bolan quiver to his vocals which is most effective on the verse, whereas the chorus is livelier, where Bugg sticks the proverbial fingers up to his former life.
Lightning Bolt is a real Johnny Cash rockabilly number complete with basic sound production, with lyrics of youthful confidence and defiance. It's just Bugg and guitar with a "bring it on I'll roll with it baby" swagger. Seen it All has an innocent Buddy Holly feel to it, but is actually about getting drunk or drugged up and taking a risk by going to a rough and edgy house party. Heh, that's one experience from my youth I don't miss. Trouble Town later on in the album is another mid US rockabilly style number with the emphasis on dodging trouble and the sirens.
Simple As This is kind of Everly Brothers meets Dylan brought into the twenty first century complete with very intricate and gentle vocals. After the brutality of Seen It All, the song brings the mood back down. Someplace is another beautifully performed but rather mournful song about a girl who's always just going to go back to her man.
Country Song is a very out of fashion sound; which sounds like it could be sung by flower child of the 1960's Melanie. It's short but I love it. Someone Told Me also reminds me of Melanie with its intricate guitar work and rolling vocals. It's probably too twee for some, but I could listen to this kind of stuff for the rest of my life.
Broken completes the reflective quiet period in Jake Bugg's album. If the guy wasn't so cool, I could see people bringing their lighters out to sway to this one live. Note to Self has another cheery 50s feel to the delivery, which is rather sweet song to a girl to buck up her confidence. Heh, I spent many a Friday evening doing that kind of thing back in the day. It's good to realise that the insecurities of our youth continue today.
Taste It is one of the more inconsequential tracks on the album, with that old cliché of finding it hard being on the road. There is a good early New Wave roll to the song however, and gives the album a different pace and sound. Slide meanwhile shows that in the cradle, Bugg's parents probably played a little too much Verve. It's a pretty song but to me sounds like a bit too much effort was deployed with Bugg sounding like he is singing in the outside loo and rare (but sparse) orchestration to the song. It's not terrible but Bugg's voice feels a little stretched.
Fire closes the album, and brings us back to the feel of the 1920's R&B sharecropper songs of Mid West America. It's a short and low key end to what is a great album.
To sum up there's an awful lot to like and admire in Jake Bugg's debut album, and I'm sure it's a recording that both teenagers and their mums and dads can grove to.
I lost count of the number of times when I was younger that I was told to turn my "racket" down with my Dad bemoaning the fact that they don't make music like they used to. Suddenly, however, I find myself tempted to give him a copy of Jake Bugg's debut CD for Christmas. On the tag, I'll write "See, Dad, they DO make music like they used to!"
For some reason, opening track "Lightning Bolt" didn't trouble the higher reaches of the charts when it was released as a single, which is a shame as it's a great opening track. It feels like a 50s rock and roll number, mixing a twangy country guitar with a feel of Johnny Cash with a clear, pure vocal that sounds a little more like the Everly Brothers. It's an old style rock and roll with a bouncy little riff and a decent pick up that fairly rips past, seeming even shorter than its 2 ½ minute run time such is the pace it passes at.
"Two Fingers" has to be the track that got Jake Bugg the support slot to Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds in the United States. It's got the feel of an Oasis song in some of their quieter moments, but without that annoyingly whiny Liam Gallagher vocal. The lyrics tell of trying to beat a dissatisfied youth, but with a fairly jaunty beat that suggests Bugg isn't taking himself too seriously and with a nicely upbeat and defiant chorus.
"Taste It" takes us back to the more up-tempo feel of the opening track and it's another rousing rock and roll number, although with a slight indie feel when the chorus comes around. It doesn't have the lyrical awareness of "Two Fingers", but it does give you an enjoyable few minutes harking back to the days of Jerry Lee Lewis and the likes, when rock and roll was simple and effective.
There's a gentler opening to "Seen It All", before the beat picks up. The early reference to "I took a pill or maybe two" suggests a nod to the more psychedelic age of rock and roll in the late 1960s, but there is a youthfulness and innocence to the song which, when combined with the clarity of the vocals once again provides a nod to some of the cleaner cut rock and roll acts of the earlier 1960s and late 1950s.
Gentler seems to be the mood of the moment, as "Simple As This" is a calming, down tempo folk tinged song. The lyrical content may nod towards Dylan in places, but the pop harmonies and the folk feel suggests a touch of Simon and Garfunkel fell into the mix and it's this sound which is the dominant one. This is a simple, but beautiful little track that you can easily relax with after a rough day.
Next is "Country Song", which doesn't entirely live up to its title. It's a slower track than the previous one, but retains the same gentle, folk tinged, Simon and Garfunkel pop feel. The lyrical content is a little weak, but the track is less than two minutes long, so it's gone almost before you've had chance to register that lines like "...sing you an old country song / From the heart" aren't as good as some of the other lyrics.
"Broken" is again not lyrically perfect, but musically it's a wonderful moment. It's downbeat and down tempo, but it's simple and beautifully done musically. It's a pop ballad, but there are a couple of moments where it expands into something else that reminded me a little of The Hollies for some reason. This is the longest song on the album by quite a way at just over 4 minutes long, but it's another one that is easy to get lost in and drift away with.
"Trouble Town" kicks off with another jaunty up tempo country tinged rock and roll beat which, much like "Lightning Bolt" seems to mix a little Johnny Cash with a little Everly Brothers and gives you the best of both. Musically, the song is straight out of 1950s America, but the lyrics that talk about being "stuck in speed-bump city" could only be written by an Englishman. But stuck the song certainly isn't, as the near 3 minutes pass in a flash.
There is a little more of a current feel in "The Ballad of Mr. Jones", but even here the influence of the past can't be escaped entirely. Musically, it has a downbeat and down tempo feel that reminds me a little of the Verve. But when the chorus kicks in, the vocal harmonies have that Simon and Garfunkel feel that has cropped up a few times during the song. It almost sounds like what you'd have ended up with if The Verve had covered "Scarborough Fair".
"Slide" retains the Verve like feel, but drops the Simon and Garfunkel references and plays out as a simple, dirge like indie-pop song with the effort to sound nasal seeming to put a strain on Bugg's vocal that hasn't been there in any of the other tracks. Unlike "Broken", it doesn't really hold the beauty and so just passes by without doing anything to grab the listener, which makes this song a rare beast indeed in the context of this album.
Sadly, there's a nasal feel to the vocal on "Someone Told Me" as well, but fortunately the song is generally a little jauntier and more upbeat, even if it only really makes it to a mid-tempo track with a simple acoustic guitar and vocal feel. Musically, it's simple and quite sweet, but the vocal is a slight let down on this track and takes the edge off what could have been a lovely song.
Fortunately, "Note to Self" puts Bugg back into the 1950s where it seems his sound truly feels at home. There's a lovely jaunty little folk feel and the song returns to the Simon and Garfunkel type feel, being a mid-tempo folk tinged pop song with a simple acoustic guitar and brushed drum combination that make the whole thing pass more than pleasantly.
As we near the end of the album, "Someplace" takes us a little way back towards Bugg's weakness, namely a desire for delving into a more modern indie type sound. This is a downbeat track with strong hints of The Verve, although there is something in the song when it tries to break out and has moments of angst that wouldn't be unfamiliar to Dylan fans. Sadly, these moments aren't all that common and this comes across as being a little dismal and dreary for the most part.
Fortunately, the album does end on a higher point, with "Fire" having an almost calypso style beat played out on an acoustic guitar proving that Bugg is at his best when he's being a little more low key. This is a very short song and seems to end just when I'm getting into it, but maybe the secret of success is to leave your audience wanting more.
This is a very short album at only 39 minutes over 14 tracks, but it still provides decent value for money even at £9.00 from Amazon, because there's no way you can listen to it just once. There are some great moments here and whilst there are some tracks where the mood drops and the quality seems to go with it, generally this is an upbeat and enjoyable album. Very few albums are perfect, but this is a superb effort considering it's a debut from a teenager from Nottingham. A little more life experience and a little more practice and Jake Bugg can only improve. My only concern would be that when you've hit the top of the UK album charts with your first release without even trying, where do you go that betters that and will the pressure of trying be too much? I await Jake Bugg's second album with interest, but I'll be playing this first one a lot more between now and then.