Jake Bugg – On My One Review

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That once fabled ‘Dylan 2.0’ from 2012 has changed much since his debut. His second album left some to prophesise that he may be a one hit wonder, retreating back into the decade of his Britpop aesthetic. Shangri La wasn’t that bad, but it certainly wasn’t more than that either and his third studio album needs to find a new found maturity musically, on top of a greater substance and definitive style in general. On My One needs to be more diverse and dynamic for Bugg to prove his doubters wrong.

There is a sense of comfortable familiarity with the title track ‘One My One’. He still has the acoustic guitar in hand, but there is a far greater substance to what is an earthy and solemn sound. The complete isolation the guitar is shrouded in, gives off an air of darkness and mystery and the lyrics are more contemplative if not a little predictable for an artist on a third album; singing about touring, selling records and god. The promise of this track lies in the thoughtful and complementary production from Mike D of the Beastie Boys. Extracting such qualities from a simple acoustic track is easy however, so the jury is still out on this one. ‘Gimme the Love’ has a 90’s Acid House-style drum sample with an escalated, rumbling bass line. The sharp riffs simply fall from this simple, but infectious arrangement. Jake’s sort of half sung rap actually suits his vocal style rather well and the song on the whole functions as an energetic piece of pop; not a hugely creative affair, but one that carries out its function brilliantly. It is a sign of Bugg trying new things with a degree of success. ‘Love Hope and Misery’ points to another musical direction from his previous first two singles. Despite the pedestrian overtures of the opening chords of the track, it soon flourishes into a wider sound of strings and Jake’s wiry, almost Frankie Valli style vocals. It is a smooth and swooning rock ballad and Jake delivers it well and shows a greater musical awareness here. It is not going to be song of the year, but it shows he’s back, developing his style in a more positive direction.

‘Bitter Salt’, is an intermingling of the two styles of his previous singles. The track opens with a simple yet punchy set of chords, backing Bugg’s coarse vocals, driven by lyrics hinting at the more terse tones explored in On My One. The verses then build instrumentally to fabricate the chorus – an unusual fusion of pithy lyricism with an anthem-like structure, sculpted by hearty electric guitars and percussion. This festival -fit arrangement is more comparable to the up-beat ventures of Gimme the Love. The concluding hook of the track is what sets it aside as one of Bugg’s more convoluted numbers. It heightens the song immensely – if festival-goers weren’t already fist-pumping to the chorus, they will be when this electrifying riff detonates. This track may not be an absolute sensation, yet it enhances the speculation around his experimentation. ‘Never Wanna Dance’ is an easy listening and smooth affair with all the musical arrangements of a contemporary soul album with the rolling organs and airy acoustic tones. Tracks like ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’ is a preaching track of political discourse in the style of a Beastie Boys rap. The rough edged riffs work well as a backdrop. Meanwhile ‘Put Out The Fire’ is in the more familiar country style albeit a 1960’s variant of it. All in all, it resprents a mixed bag of styles and genres tried out by Bugg that are only loosely connected as a body of music. He doesn’t always get it right, but it is an album that perhaps Jake Bugg needed to explore and test a new direction. This album has pretty much seen Bugg publishing his findings as opposed to acting on them, but nevertheless he’s recovered his potential with this album.

Jake Bugg – On My One = 7.5/10

Owen Riddle & Eleanor Chivers

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