Album Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg

by Sam Skilton
The cover art for Jake Bugg's self-titled debut album

The cover art for Jake Bugg’s self-titled debut album

It’s the mid-sixties, Beatlemania is in full flow, and the explosive guitar riffs of The Kinks, The Who and The Rolling Stones can be heard booming out of radio sets nationwide. But in this case, perhaps most tellingly of all, Donovan has just released his debut album ‘What’s Been Did and What’s Been Hid’. Little was the Scottish singer-songwriter to know the impact it would have some four decades later on a Nottingham-born lad named Jake Bugg.
There is certainly a Donovan influence on Bugg’s self-titled debut, but he employs an old and previously successful recipe, updated for a 21st Century audience – and boy does it sound fresh. ‘Jake Bugg’, just short of 40 minutes of classic British country rock enthused with gentle acoustics, bursts into life with the three upbeat singles ‘Lightning Bolt’, ‘Two Fingers’ and ‘Taste It’.
Having already supported the likes of The Stone Roses and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, it’s easy to forget just how young Jake Bugg is, but the 18-year-old demonstrates lyrical maturity which some artists could only dream of, particularly in ‘Seen It All’ – a track which discusses drug-use and violence on the Nottingham council estates. It would have made a cracking single.
‘Ballad Of Mr Jones’, named after Bob Dylan’s ‘Ballad Of A Thin Man’, is a masterpiece. The 14 track LP concludes with ‘Fire’ a track recorded by Bugg himself, and it appears that Mercury have done a sterling job in mastering a modern day album while retaining the rawness required to make it a potential future classic.
But given the recent struggles of guitar-based records in the British music industry, the fact that a young lad from Clifton council estate in Nottingham – clad in his Fred Perry Harrington jacket and armed only with his acoustic guitar – could beat the X Factor’s finely crafted Leona Lewis to the top of the album charts is some feat. And it would certainly be a satisfying victory for Bugg, who describes most chart music as “crap”.
“I would love to have been born in the 60s, but I’m here now,” he says. That’s certainly a good thing. There’s every chance that this album could redefine modern day guitar music. In his own words: he’s alive, and he’s here to stay.
1. Lightning Bolt
2. Two Fingers
3. Taste It
4. Seen It All
5. Simple as This
6. Country Song
7. Broken
8. Trouble Town
9. Ballad of Mr Jones
10. Slide
11. Someone Told Me
12. Note to Self
13. Someplace
14. Fire
Released: 15 October 2012
Label: Mercury
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