Happiness

Album of the week : Jake Bugg - Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg’s eponymous debut album, released earlier this week on Mercury Records looks set to underline a breakthrough year for the young singer/songwriter. The Nottingham-based teenager has developed quite a list of achievements in 2012, supporting The Stone Roses at an already legendary secret gig in London, touring with Noel Gallagher in the UK and Europe, and his much talked about TV performance on Later with Jools Holland

Fourteen songs in total; sharp, observant and honest, his tracks tell stories of his experiences growing up as a working class teenager in Nottingham

The album begins showcasing Bugg’s strengths : strong shuffling chords, delivering a cracking chorus and simple but effective guitar solos, exemplified by opener ‘Lightning Bolt’, a great Sunday morning song with a jingling Telecaster that pushes you to get up, shake off that hangover and get the eggs on, with room for air-guitaring your spatula

New single Two Fingers follows, the video for which is filmed in Nottingham. ‘Two Fingers’ is a feel good track about getting out of bad places, with reference to his home borough of Clifton

This formula is repeated in ‘Taste It’. It’s an edgy but classic sound and his voice carries through a sense of purpose in the chorus, it’s difficult not put on your Jake Bugg/Dylan impression on

‘Seen it all’ is the fourth track on the album, with a more reflective story depicting the troublesome situations he’s been in

There’s an unashamed nod to Bugg’s inspirations throughout the album, especially Dylan, with similar chord patterns and vocals, some choice examples are ‘Simple as this’ and the picking tunes of ‘Country Song’. There’s also some songs that offer likeness to the Arctic Monkeys with ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Seen It All’, not only in the general sound and vocal style but also in observational and reflective lyrics, depicting Bugg’s world, Nottingham. The uniqueness of Bugg’s lyrics is that we receive a mix of the thoughts of a young kid ‘taking a pill’ or experiencing the ‘twisted stomach’ pains of a broken heart with a guy in his late twenties who’s sick of being on the dole and bored of his friends

What makes Jake Bugg stand out from the sea of samey handsome-boy-with-acoustic-guitar acts currently taking over the charts, are the clear influences of country in his music, soft acoustics and an old-school vocal style appeal to the fans of alternative folk and by the second verse of ‘Broken’ the soulful singer proves he’s more than just a one hit wonder. Imagine the sort of music you’d imagine playing out of an old radio or record player in an old film about America’s Deep South and ‘Trouble Town’ is exactly that, sounding as though it was recorded fifty years ago

It’s a sparse but perfectly paced record, one that marks out Jake as a very real, and exciting, new UK artist in 2012, who manages to effortlessly straddle the gap between authenticity and mainstream appeal

Buy it here

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October 19, 2012

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