Jake Bugg is one of the UK’s emerging solo artists and ever since his eponymous debut album in 2012, he’s caused quite the stir in pop music. Often referred to as a young Bob Dylan, sometimes even by himself, Bugg has a distinct sound to his voice which has made him stand out from the crowd of generic singers and have his own style. He is on a mission to not only make country music a more popular thing but also modernise it and become a standout figure in modern music culture. After a short break he’s returned for his third album which has been described as his most heartbreaking album to date. Is the quality up to scratch or is the Nottingham singer going to fall flat on his face with this experimental gamble? Let’s find out as we listen to ‘On My One’ by Jake Bugg.
On My One – 8/10
The country guitar strum at the beginning of this song really is chilling and sets that dark and emotional scene for this song which in itself is heartbreaking and a real insight into the life of Jake Bugg. I absolutely love the openness of the song and how it gives you that inside look into how he feels about his fame. The chorus may be a real downer but is a harsh reality of his life situation at the moment and how he will feel lonely and negative emotion irregardless of fame and fortune. Local fans of his will also adore his mentioning of home town Nottingham, suggesting that he chased his dream despite being from an area that doesn’t have the biggest music scene. As a gutsy, open book of an album this is a fantastic introduction. Will it carry on like that or will the mood lighten? Let’s find out.
Gimme The Love – 8/10
And just like that, as if the last song regarding depressing and lonely thoughts disappears from memory and we have a real rock anthem with a blistering pace. It does have a bit of an arrogant touch to it which does seem confusing considering the fragility of the previous song but that doesn’t take anything away from how great this song is. We also hear the debut album sound of Jake Bugg’s voice as he isn’t fully clear and, much like The Strokes’ style, sounds like he’s singing through a walkie talkie at times. It is borderline rapping the way he goes in the verses and be more than holds his own, a great energy to this one. Already two songs in and I love this album but I have to say that positionally he could have located this album better and made it fit into more of a structure that makes sense and flows.
Love, Hope And Misery – 8.5/10
The hard snares are so distinctive at the start of this song and seem so stuttered in their style but give the song a distinct sound. This is probably the most heartfelt and emotive song Jake Bugg has ever released and has all the maturity of a seasoned veteran. It’s such a knowledgeable vision when digging deep into the lyrics and hearing the true turmoil he goes through considering his tender age. The chorus is absolutely fantastic and is very easy to sing along to but also has that heart breaking feel to it with the violins which kick in at specific parts of the song. As a fan of his music, this is the sort of thing I have hoped for, a passionate modern twist to the Bob Dylan label he’s been given and his voice is very reminiscent of the man himself in certain areas. Fantastic song to go with a fantastic start to the album. More of the same please, Jake.
The Love We’re Hoping For – 9.5/10
Dark, mysterious, country lane music at its finest. Crisp, raw guitar playing which has those natural cries to it and it just sounds brilliant. This song really gives out the sense of being a real life live recording rather than something that has been edited and digitally tinkered with. Another sad and dark song with a catchy chorus which sticks in your mind, I’m really finding it hard to fault him at the moment as it is just top quality song after song. It’s exactly what was needed for Jake Bugg to cement his status and continue his rise up the music ladder. Lyrically it’s moving and powerful once again, a tale of a girl plagued by fears and the effects it has on her love. He is showing off with this one, it’s just brilliant.
Put Out The Fire – 7/10
Reminds me of his debut album with the upbeat country strumming and high pitched voice. The guitar playing is exemplary and is yet another string to the bow of Jake Bugg. I love how he varies the pace of his voice and can switch in a flash from being on the cusp of rapping to elongating a note and holding it together brilliantly. I think the song itself works for the better by being short and no longer than it is because it doesn’t have the chance to drag on like I feel it inevitably would if he did another verse. It cut off at just the right time, although it wasn’t a magnificent song it was solid and deserves its place in the album, the guitar playing is fantastic and the vocal range is some of Bugg’s best too.
Never Wanna Dance – 8/10
A different flavour on this one, the harmonious vocals at the start of the song sound space age and like he’s floating on a cloud, he follows it on with his beautiful tone in the verse, much higher than anything we usually hear from him. He’s complimented very well by the instrumentation which isn’t as basic as we usually hear from him and he experiments a bit more on this song with electronics and different elements. This song is once again regarding love and the question of how he truly feels. The lyrics are strong willed and give you something to think about as to whether or not all of the love is true and meaningful. There’s a great bridge on this song too with the saxophone providing one of many highlights on this song. Very experimental and also very cool, nice to hear something fresh and original once in a while. Great song once again.
Bitter Salt – 5/10
The instrumental sounds a bit like it’s going to break out into New York, New York at the start and it’s all a bit much. This is a bit of a snoozer unfortunately, I got bored of this song by the time the second verse started and wanted to move on, but for your sake I carried on. The chorus is nice I like that bit but the way he repeats “it’s on” about 57000 times in the pre-chorus and the bridge almost pushes me over the edge of lunacy, I’m just urging him to stop yet he will carry it on. The guitar solo is a bit T-Rex and a bore because we’ve heard it all before. The only poor song so far on this album.
Ain’t No Rhyme – 8/10
Listen up, folks, Jake Bugg is the sickest MC this country has produced. Spitting bars like there’s no tomorrow over a fairly cool beat I have to admit, it’s a great mixture of hip-hop and funky guitar it just seems to click. He would fit right into the scene if this song is anything to go by as he raps about crime and women on the regular with an added level of swagger and personality. All jokes aside, it’s actually quite good and I’m so confused that I’ve actually called Jake Bugg rapping a good thing. But somehow it is, he has good rhythm with it, a catchy hook and a really nice beat, good on you Jake. This song is, dare I say it, the most risky genre switch from an artist I’ve heard in a long long time because if he messed this up, he would have become a walking meme for the rest of his career. But luckily for him it worked and sounded really fresh and cool.
Livin’ Up Country – 7/10
Forget all that rapping business, back to what Bugg does best, singing about being a country boy. I love the western theme that he takes on and the best part of it is that there’s no half measures with it, he takes the theme and runs with it. The lyrics, vocals, instruments, everything is so country-fied and it works really well again. My only complaint will be again the positioning of the song, following what is basically a rap song with this seems more than odd, it’s just baffling and like he’s picked the best songs and chucked them on an album. It’s another pocket rocket of a song which is less than three minutes long yet packs a decent punch, not quite on the level of the first few songs, but still good nonetheless.
All That – 6.5/10
Soft, delicate, beautiful. A song which you can easily hear is full of real emotion and passion as his voice strains with heartache and the struggles he’s endured in his turbulent life. It is also a gorgeous story about how a girl sacrificed everything for love and how greatly he appreciates her for that. It’s a song which could really do with making its mind up in all honesty though because every three lines the motive of the song changes and in the second verse he talks about her drifting away. Lovely song and all that but at the same time you feel it went off on a tangent as he changed the subject numerous times. It was like he was signing three different songs at once and it was hard to keep up with.
Hold On You – 4.5/10
I just sat through this song waiting for him to actually say something, a verse in which he repeats every line and a chorus in which he does the exact same thing doesn’t work in my head as a coherent song. Even the instrumental can’t be a saving grace to this one which is a really disappointing finale to the album and I fear it’ll bring the overall rating down heavily just from a smattering of laziness on this, the last song.
Overall – 7.5/10
If the album was of the quality of the first four songs all the way through it’d be the best album released in the past two or three years, but sadly it tailed off towards the end and it does make me wonder if he has purposely placed his best songs at the start to make it all better. Regardless, those songs are fantastic and I really mean that, The Love We’re Hoping For could well be the best song Jake Bugg has ever done and if I’m being honest the filler tracks on here aren’t that bad it’s just in comparison they really do lack something against the others. What’s worth noting is the daring attitude of Jake Bugg to tackle numerous genres in one album, and not just leave himself in one avenue of music. For that he deserves an awful lot of credit because it’s a brave move and it’s one that paid off. This album ranks very nicely alongside his other two and keeps him moving along nicely as he becomes one of Britain’s best solo artists.