Jake Bugg Shows Willingness to Experiment on ‘On My One’
Jake Bugg Shows Willingness to Experiment on ‘On My One.’
A couple of years ago, Jake Bugg made his debut stateside with an excellent self-titled album. Then still a kiddo, Bugg had a knack for songwriting with a distinctive, somewhat odd voice. Possessing such a unique instrument was clearly part of the appeal and is clearly the reason why it’s fascinating to see what Bugg does over the course of his career, even being unsung. Album number two (Shangri La) was disappointing, so after hearing “Love, Hope and Misery,” optimism for his third album On My One definitely increased. Is On My One a step up from Shangri La? Does it out maneuver Jake Bugg? Read on brother (and/or sister) and let’s dive into this!
“On My One” kicks off On My One in vulnerable, somewhat plaintive fashion. While Bugg isn’t literally crying during the course of his performance, it’s clear that he feels all alone (“Where’s God, where’s God / he’s even left me on my one”). Even considering its simplicity, “On My One” is an enjoyable start.
Interestingly, “Gimme The Love” contrasts the opener completely, accelerating the tempo and finding Bugg delivering a more assertive, energetic performance. While it’s hard to decipher every lyric Bugg sings, this “different look” for the singer/songwriter is interesting. Even so, follow-up “Love, Hope and Misery” is the crème de la crème – On My One’s valedictory moment. Bugg, who doesn’t possess the smoothest set of pipes, provides a nice coarseness to the balladry, part of the appeal. The orchestration doesn’t hurt either (strings, gritty bass, distorted guitars).
“The Love We’re Hoping For” has a tough act to follow – beating a juggernaut is never simple. The dark tilt, amplified by the minor key and an enigmatic touch, is appealing, even if this narrative-driven number doesn’t scream ‘hit.’ “Put Out the Fire” sounds like signature Jake Bugg (if one is familiar with his self-titled debut) as it sounds similar to past standout “Taste It.” Is it as good? Nah, but it suits his style without a hitch.
The urban touches of “Never Wanna Dance” give the Brit another departure, showing another example of his willingness to experiment. Much like “Love, Hope and Misery,” his coarser pipes paint this smoother palette with surprising soundness. Is it confounding considering the schizophrenic nature of On My One at this point? Yes, but give Bugg some credit. Once more he contrasts with “Bitter Salt” wherein declaratory fashion he states, “it’s on.” Is it? It’s an adrenaline rush, though not necessarily a showstopper.
“Ain’t No Rhymes” is the most off-putting joint of On My One, with Bugg rapping. While it doesn’t fit how most perceive him artistically as something of a new Bob Dylan, it’s definitely not uncharacteristic considering he’s 22 and clearly has no desire to be boxed in. “Livin’ Up Country” atones, sounding more in Bugg’s wheelhouse. Bugg has dabbled in country before, namely “Country Song” from his debut. His assertiveness and the edginess of his voice is perfection epitomized.
The brief penultimate song “All That” decelerates predictably, once more embracing that simplicity and poise that Bugg pulls off well. Bluesy closer “Hold On You” on the other hand settles for mid-tempo with a bit of a punch. Neither’s a knockout blow, but also neither are misses. That’s a lot of neither in once sentence, right?
So, how does On My One come out? It’s different but also interesting. After listening to Bugg’s three studio albums, his best at this point remains Jake Bugg. On My One won’t necessarily change the perception that Bugg’s best work has already materialized, but it does/should show his willingness to try new things. While everything doesn’t work on On My One, there’s enough that does work to give it a spin or two.
The Gems: “On My One,” “Gimme The Love,” “Love, Hope and Misery” & “Livin’ Up Country”