Jake Bugg is no stranger to success. With a smoldering of a Gallagher brother, the 22-year-old is hardly the ideal pop star poster boy. Yet, being a little rough around the edges is what has propelled Bugg into indie-rock superstardom, having had his 2012 self-titled debut enter the UK charts at number one. Four years on, and with a sophomore album squeezed in-between, Jake Bugg’s third album, On My One, is a clever blend of production and lyrics as the Brit’s latest effort manages to take him to a feat of untouchable, uncharted territory. A large departure from his previous two records, Jake Bugg (2012), and Shangri La (2013), On My One isn’t as punchy in its delivery, yet there is a certain pensive charm about it that makes On My One a real stand alone record. Slowing down the tempo a little by inviting a cool mix of different genres to give their two cents worth, On My One hears Jake Bugg not only evolve as a musician, but also mature as a singer-songwriter. If his past two albums were a commentary, Bugg’s On My One seems more like a deeper, darker reflection.
On My One begins immediately as an open letter, allowing a careful, yet simplistic insight into Bugg’s life following his earlier successes. Title track, ‘On My One’ is a dictum of “on my own”, taken from Bugg’s home city of Nottingham – and on his own is certainly right – as Bugg solely produced, wrote, and played almost every instrument on the LP; the track ‘On My One’ is a perfect introduction. It’s a simplistic production – folky guitar and a slow, steady beat – that ultimately allows Jake Bugg’s melancholy lyrics to shine. He sings, “I’m just a poor boy from Nottingham” and “Where’s God? He’s even left me on my one”.
Yet, Jake Bugg’s introduction is quiet in comparison to the rest of On My One. Bugg’s experimentation on this LP breaks him away from the label of a mini-Gallagher only influenced by 1960s psych-rock. If On My One is anything to go by, Bugg has dipped his hands into a melting pot of jazz, country, hip-hop, and even straight-shooting pop. In particular, a real stand out on the LP is ‘Never Wanna Dance’ which sees the removal of Bugg’s distinctive, gritty guitar and rambling lyrics; replacing it with what sounds like a contemporary blue-eyed soul ballad. With vocals sounding like Mick Hucknall of Simply Red, Jake Bugg’s ‘Never Wanna Dance’ is a huge shift from what we’re used to – incorporating a brilliant combination of trumpets, organs and strings previously left untouched by the singer-songwriter. Another track showcasing Bugg’s experimentation is ‘Gimme The Love’ where fast-tempo jangly percussion meets a hardy bassline. This, paired with Bugg’s spitting vocals in the verses, sounds quite like Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 2002, ‘Can’t Stop’.
While On My One shows a new side to Jake Bugg, many of the songs on the record, including ‘Put Out The Fire’, ‘The Love We’re Hoping For’, and ‘Hold On You’ sound like what we’re used to – but with a twist. On this LP, Bugg’s distinct sound is like brit-pop gone wild in Memphis, or Tennessee – twanging guitars and melancholy British lyrics joining forces with Americana country and folk. It’s good to see Jake Bugg spread his wings and try out something new. However, die-hard fans of Bugg’s usual sound may be put-off by some aspects of On My One. Previous hits such as ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Slumville Sunrise’ seemed to be more about life itself, whereas this LP establishes a recurring theme of love-lost from the get-go. At points, Bugg’s lyrics seem like a soppy serenade – which appears out of character for him. Lyrics such as, “Holding back the reasons not to love you” and “if suddenly you leave, I will understand”, kind of make you want to yell, “sing about the streets of Nottingham again, for Christ’s sake!” Yet, Jake Bugg’s new album is a controversial step in the right direction. Perhaps the greatest moment in On My One comes with track, ‘All That’. Stripped down to just Jake and his guitar, ‘All That’ is raw and real. Such a track is a real nod to his unwavering ability to make music with great finesse.
On My One is due out for release on Friday 17th via EMI Music Australia.