There came a point not so long ago that people genuinely started to be concerned for the whereabouts of Jake Bugg. The artist with widespread critical acclaim and a legion of adoring fans could have quite easily fallen off the face of the earth…
Thankfully, though, he was just hanging out in his native Nottingham – and the warmer climes of California with Jacknife Lee – creating a record which challenges all the conventions previously associated with the musician. Proving that Bugg is not a one trick pony, the sonic diversity running throughout ‘On My One’ is a delightful risk that has well and truly paid off for the singer.
The title track is bluesy and clearly within the realms of country, a quintessential aspect of the musician’s self-titled debut. However veering into ‘Gimme The Love’, the LP’s first official single, things become more uncharacteristically Bugg, from the frenzied drum beat and psychedelic tinges to the saturated reverb. It’s ballsy, boisterous and brilliant at the same time.
Delving further into the release, love appears to still be a prominent theme for Bugg’s heartfelt lyrics. It’s important to note that the singer was on sole writing duties – something which he has described as a challenge he felt he had to do after coming under scrutiny for using co-writers in the past – and with such maturity and sensitivity within his words it’s easy to forget he’s still only 22 years old.
‘Love, Hope And Misery’ is the most gentle moment on the album with Bugg singing softly: “Dry those eyes and don’t be afraid,” set against a backdrop of heart wrenching strings. Elsewhere, ‘The Love We’re Hoping For’ is rootsy and forlorn with the delicate delivery of the line: “The love we’re hoping for is dying / Just like this city that we’re all in.”
Perhaps the album’s biggest curveball, ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’ sees Bugg, rather successfully, try his hand at hip-hop in a sound which is even more of a departure than ‘Gimme The Love’. Taking a political stance over swaggering percussion he raps: “When you’re in the middle which side do you lean? / I must say it’s hard being in between.”
As ‘On My One’ draws to a close, ‘Hold On You’ showcases a more vintage rock ’n' roll vibe with jangly guitars and a bluesy, crooning vocal more country than a cowboy hat.
Unpredictably diverse and unexpectedly personal, this album sees Bugg managing to maintain the relatable style which won him so many fans in the first place, while taking the necessary risks that allow him to grow as an artist. After all, you can take the boy out of Nottingham, but you can’t take the Nottingham out of the boy.
Words: Shannon Cotton
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