Sorrowful, cynical, and at times simply bored, Mr. Bugg’s new album embodies a bible of campfire songs for the lonesome and doomed non-believers.
Our favourite British delinquent and mesmerising talent Jake Bugg released his third studio album earlier this month. Since Bugg graced the musical world with his debut self-titled album in 2012, people have mused about whether he is the new folk voice of our generation, a Bob Dylan counterpart if you will.
Plucked at the ripe age of 17, the do-eyed boy from Nottingham was faced with the troublesome reality of coming of age in the eye of the media. Now 22, his music is the biggest signifier of his character- he may not have the stage presence and natural air of Mick Jagger, but his humble beginnings and honest vulnerability in an industry that gets bored easily add to his charm.
One My One, marks the first album from the mop haired Brit that hasn’t been co-written with other artists. In a liberating move for his career, ironically the album questions the artist’s motivations as he gravitates towards new audio inspiration from 90s hip-hop and electronica. While it offers a point of difference to his previous work, and is a major leap out of his comfort zone, this brave move is perhaps what makes the album lackluster.
With a perfectly adequate palette of typical Bugg-sounding folk ballads and jams (which he executes so well) they appear confused beside occasional tracks that dabble with a style Bugg shouldn’t be paddling through. This needn’t be an overall testament to the album when there is plenty of material that deserves to be credited, however a “less is more” approach would have made the compilation more polished.
Thematically, On My One is Nottingham slang for “on my own” which perfectly summarises the morbid and surly tones that illustrate Bugg’s overall plea of loneliness from being on tour, not to mention his chosen isolation from mainstream culture.
The opening single mirroring the album title ‘On My One’ introduces Bugg with an overtly raw acoustic number, with a religious preaching quality reminiscent of the late Johnny Cash. Bugg draws on his limited ambitions growing up in a poor neighborhood and his reclusively lonesome lifestyle “I’m just a poor boy from Nottingham, I had my dreams but in this world they’re gone they’re gone, oh I am so lonesome on my one”. It is one of the better tracks on the album in its easy listening simplicity and eerie self-reflections on solitude.
Just when we start getting excited about songs such as this, we are interrupted with an upbeat 90s tribute as seen in ‘Gimme the Love’ and ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’ that should remain buried in that decade.
The album at times often shows an exposed vein from Bugg’s love life or lack of one, either swarmed by unrequited love or heartbreak. ‘Love Hope and Misery’ as the title suggests is a wallowing tune that sees Bugg put on the philosopher’s cap in the choral line “They say it comes in threes, love hope and misery”. Similarly to this he offers ‘The Love We’re Hoping For’, ‘All That’, and ‘Never Want to Dance’, all of which belong as a teenager’s background music on a lonely Valentines Day.
‘Hold On You’ marks a refreshingly assertive and confident conclusion to the album as Bugg definitely exercises his ties to a woman that toys with his emotions. Unlike his previous morosely toned yet humble love songs, this offers a cheeky and charming resolution to his prior grief. “You don’t give me loving when you get real mad, you got it all messed up from the moment you had me Laaaaaaady, I said I got a hold on you”. He may not woo you with flowers and chocolates, but he’ll probably offer you a cigarette and write a tune about you.
On My One has some gems to be celebrated, no matter how inconsistent it ultimately is. It will be interesting to see how fans react to this out-of-character compilation. My recommendations for Bugg would be to spend more time in the sun and heal his forlorn soul before he generates an On My One vol. 2. We wish him all the best.
What do you think of his latest offering?