Jake Bugg has only been around for 5 years yet is immensely popular, his vocation so far has alternated between global success and mediocrity. His prosperity thus far is undoubtedly deserved, yet I find his career curious and interesting when you begin to look past his mundane persona.
Bugg burst onto the scene sporting a refreshing, diverse style of music with afflatus from several reputable musicians which helped instantly capture my attention. It was also gratifying to finally see somebody from my home county of Nottinghamshire making a name for themselves.
The curiosity I find with him began in recent times rather than when I first came across him. His debut album circa 2012 became critically acclaimed and he enjoyed a lot of hype; yet contrasted against the album he released about a year ago hardly anybody seemed to know the album was out, it took me a few months to realise! I instantly loved his music when I first heard it and appreciated how genuine he was as a musician, or so I thought. Maybe pedantic but when I found out his debut album was co-written and not solely his work I was sorely disappointed. I’m a big fan of all three albums but was shocked when he stated “On My One” was the only album he had written by himself.
Bugg for me is one of the few surviving legitimate musicians who epitomise multiple eras of rock as he takes inspiration from the likes of Oasis, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly and predominantly Bob Dylan. Bugg’s overall sound is arguably a quintessential example of a contemporary Dylan just with heavier guitars. When listening to most of Bugg’s songs it’s intriguing to hear Dylan-esque tendencies; simply modernised and combined with others such as Neil Young whose influence is noticeable in songs such as Broken and Fire.
Returning to how he didn’t solely compose his first album, for me is so significant as having the ability to write quality songs is not too common nowadays. Writing meaningful lyrics alongside composing the instrumental pieces is the most important part of any band; I reckon Noel Gallagher agrees with me as he said ‘I was fucking heartbroken when I found out Jake Bugg uses a co-writer’. If you don’t write your own songs, you’re more of a performer than a musician. I just believe constructing your own music is what differentiates many of my favourite bands/artists and the genre in general from the manufactured tosh associated with annoying amounts of mainstream pop.
Albeit I do genuinely like his latest release, Love, Hope and Misery is Bugg at his best
as many lyrical elements come alive during the song. A recurring factor throughout the album personifying how he now feels about the industry and he then began displaying a rather beleaguered attitude. After Bugg was discovered playing on the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury circa 2012 his songs felt real, actual experiences of his incepted into each track alongside the raw emotion incorporated into them. I’ve seen many others theorise about how after being signed by the record label they manifested Bugg into the hyperbolic indie sensation we grew to love. They astutely amplified his bohemian characteristics; whenever appearing in the media he dressed and acted in a manner which was remiscient of The Beatles in the early days with bits of other artists intertwined. It often felt like he was being marketed as a caricature like figure of folk rock in an attempt to appeal to niché markets as well as the mainstream.
Much of the above may be fiction however it could explain why he produced On My One mainly on his own distancing himself from Rick Rubin and his label, but it also suggests why the album was poorly marketed in general slipping through the net being missed by many. The plausible concept that his label were exerting control over him could’ve led to him becoming disenfranchised with it all leading to writing the album to be true to his values, even if he knew it wasn’t quite up to usual standards. He needed his personal identity back not the forged, ingenuine persona he emulated for years. Even if the above is inaccurate he now does seem to be taking his career in a direction that resonates with him personally.
He may not be that folk rock platonic representation I once thought he was, but I love him nevertheless. It will be intriguing to see what form his next album takes, I hope he takes a risk and once again receives the recognition and acclamation he’s capable of.