Album Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg

By on Monday, 22nd October 2012 at 12:00 pm

Words by guest reviewer Carrie Clancy

When I listened to the first track on Jake Bugg’s new self-titled album, I had two immediate thoughts: one, he doesn’t sound very British, and two, is he really only 18 years old? This album is full of Americana-type folk, but with a modern lyrical twist. Mix in some nifty guitar work and a surprisingly melodic singing voice, and there you have it, ‘Jake Bugg’.

Bugg’s musical style has already been widely compared to that of Bob Dylan, and while that comparison seems almost too obvious, it isn’t entirely inaccurate. Vocally, Bugg sounds more like Arlo Guthrie or Paul Simon, but he definitely has the down-and-dirty Dylan vibe going for him, even at his tender young age. In contrast to the grittiness of his music, Bugg’s singing voice has quite a pleasant tone, with good range and flexibility. The production on the album isn’t overdone, but I kept thinking that the songs would have an equally strong impact if they were stripped back to just guitar and vocals. (I hope to hear this firsthand next month, when Bugg tours America, opening for Snow Patrol and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.)

Bugg’s English accent does peek through through at times as the album progresses, and it comes almost as a surprise. The first few songs have a very definite American country sound. Fast-paced folk rockers ‘Lightning Bolt’ (reviewed by Tom here) and ‘Two Fingers’ that open the album will surely appeal to fans of Mumford and Sons. ‘Slide’ has more of a contemporary alt-rock sound, reminiscent of Oasis, whom Bugg claims as one of his major musical influences. Overall, the 14 songs on the album are cleverly sequenced, with pure folk-country songs like ‘Trouble Town’ situated next to the more contemporary sounding ‘Ballad of Mr. Jones’. The final track ‘Fire’ closes the circle back to the lo-fi, Americana folk sound, almost as if Bugg is bringing his listeners back to his own musical roots.

Listening more closely to Bugg’s lyrics, I found myself amazed that someone as young as he is can write songs with the kind of emotional maturity and musical depth found here, though some of the lyrics (“a friend took me aside, said ‘everyone here has a knife'”) are a little unnerving coming from, as it were, the mouth of a mere babe. Like his musical contemporary Ed Sheeran, Bugg seems to have wisdom beyond his years, and it shows in his songwriting. I will certainly be interested to see where his music evolves from this promising beginning.


Jake Bugg’s eponymous debut album is out now on Mercury. Catch the singer/songwriter next year on his UK/Irish tour. Tom’s interview with Bugg and his answers to our Quickfire Questions are here. Watch some studio footage related to ‘Two Fingers’ below.


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9 Responses

7:03 pm
22nd October 2012

Guest writer @VocalicPage on the blog!! RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg:

7:06 pm
22nd October 2012

Check me out, yo! “@tgtf: New post: Album Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg:”

8:01 pm
22nd October 2012

@garysnowpatrol Can’t wait to hear him open for you guys!
Album Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg via @tgtf

8:19 pm
22nd October 2012

@iainarcher “@tgtf: New post: Album Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg:”

8:21 pm
22nd October 2012

Album Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg via @tgtf

12:05 am
23rd October 2012

RT @10YearsGone11: Guest writer @VocalicPage on the blog!! RT @tgtf: New post: Album Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg:

7:25 pm
23rd October 2012

@ToeKnee_Wright Yay!

[…] Bugg’s first album, ‘Jake Bugg’ (reviewed by me here) was hailed as a fresh take on folk-rock; its combination of tenacity and musical sensitivity took […]

[…] the songs seem to have developed and progressed in a very natural way, making the transition from ‘Jake Bugg’ to ‘Shangri La’ feel almost […]

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