Jake Bugg: On My One

In the same kind of way that trying to put everything in your kitchen cupboards into a sandwich isn’t really a great idea, cramming too many ideas onto an album is also usually a recipe for failure. Such is the case on Nottingham guitar-dude Jake Bugg’s newest album, where the plucky 22-year-old really isn’t doing himself any favours by stuffing so much into these 11 songs.
Much like the chaotic mess that is the cover art, On My One cobbles together – amongst other things – country, rap, folk, soul and indie disco with mostly disastrous results. Clearly the phrase ‘less is more’ has been lost on Bugg, who seems intent on indulging his every musical whim. Unlike his first two long players, On My One sees the singer breaking free from working with other songwriters, instead penning the whole thing on his, er, one. The trouble is, without a guiding hand it seems that Bugg has had some trouble deciding what kind of album this is going to be. Title track and opener would suggest that he’s angling to be the next Johnny Cash, were it not for the laughable accent. “I’m just a paw-boy, from Notting-hummm,” he drawls, somewhere between Nashville and the North of England. Next up, and the breakneck “Gimme The Love” sounds like Kasabian doing Republika’s “Ready to Go”. Although neither track is a total fiasco, they really don’t fit together, but it’s the botched soul of “Never Wanna Dance”, and adolescent raps on “Ain’t No Rhyme” that fall the flattest.
The parts of the album that work, do so because they remain true to Bugg’s style. The toe-tapping skiffles of “Put Out The Fire” and album closer “Hold On You” could have been plucked straight off his far more listenable debut, while “Livin’ Up Country” is a genuinely lovely slide-guitar drenched slice of Merseybeat-meets-James Taylor. If only he’d settled on filling up the track listing with tunes like this, On My One would have been a far more coherent and enjoyable listen. Instead it plays out like a jukebox on shuffle mode, which, sadly, is about as much fun as eating an everything sandwich.
Dan Ashcroft.

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