Age is just a number. The teenagers of One Direction are currently devaluing this expression, but 19 year-old British singer/songwriter, Jake Bugg, reaffirms it by proving talent is talent and no number can stop an artist from being considered legendary. Widely established in the country of better music, the U.K., Bugg will be releasing his self-titled studio debut album in the U.S. on April 9th via Mercury Records. In the fall of last year, the youngster released his EP entitled, “Two Fingers” and just recently dropped his newest single, “Lightning Bolt”, on March 19th.
Influenced by iconic musicians and storytellers such as Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Johnny Cash, Bugg encompasses the music styling of his predecessors, but also flawlessly modernizes their rock sound with his own innovative flair. The little lad can further hang with the lofty pact of legends listed above simply because of his ability to command a stage without using one of Katy Perry’s or Nicki Minaj’s distracting props. Bugg doesn’t need glitz and glam to fill any cracks; he is an authentic artist to the core.
His debut features 9 unreleased tracks, the four songs off of the EP, “Country Song”, “Two Fingers”, “Trouble Town” and “Slide”, as well as the single, “Lightning Bolt”. He is able to exude sounds from multiple genres, including rock, blues and folk across the album, but he still delivers a cohesive debut thanks to his uncanny lyrical and melodic techniques, resembling the late Johnny Cash. His deeply registered and emphatic vocals bring the words to the forefront of his songs. Bugg sings and you innately listen.
Comparable to the upbeat tempo of “Trouble Town,” Bugg harbors a similar tone on “Taste It”, but is able to steer clear of being a one trick pony with his well-rounded understanding of where to place intonation within the song. His vocal control persists through the entirety of the debut and is utterly intriguing on the track, “Fire”. The pronunciation of straightforward words like fire, girl and baby, becomes beautifully drawn out and in turn, he reshapes their meanings.
Typically a fan of ballads, I strongly gravitate towards Bugg’s slower paced songs, such as “Broken”, “Someplace” and “Someone Told Me”. Along softer tempos, his storytelling powers are further dramatized and entrancing. For those Shockya readers who suffer from clicking play on another song before one finishes, you must take a listen to these tracks. Bugg leaves you positively lost within his tales and will have you hitting pause or rewind multiple times before moving on to the next song.
Amongst the quicker and somber tempos are the songs which resonate well with contemporary folk music. “Simple As This” and “Seen It All” have a lighter feel due to Bugg lifting his vocal register. The airy tone coupled with catchy verses part Bugg away from his Johnny Cash resemblance and dare I say it, allow him to enter more of a commercial realm. Despite the negativity surrounding the talent behind “commercial” music, I am a believer that Bugg can transform this stigma. The 14 tracks off of “Jake Bugg” are undeniably memorable and symbolize music of the past, the present and hopefully, the future.