Album review: Jake Bugg, Shangri La, Virgin/EMI
Sunday 17 November 2013
If the challenge faced by Jake Bugg on his second album is to prove you can take the boy out of Clifton (the Nottingham council estate where he was born) without taking all traces of Clifton out of the boy, then it’s one he rises to. Those who see Bugg’s so-called “authenticity” — whatever that means — as a storm of hype might spy signs of “grooming” in the decision to record in LA with producer Rick Rubin, but the follow-up to his hit debut makes the Midlands-to-Malibu move look largely seamless: as an exercise in expanded range, Shangri La is too diverse and distinct to dismiss.
Bugg’s skiffle-billy roots remain, but they benefit from a confidence upgrade on the full-pelt opening tracks, which lay into Twitter (“There’s a Beast and We All Feed It”) and, on “Slumville Sunrise”, reiterate his hunger to spread his wings (“This place is just not for me”) beyond his birthplace. Those wings aren’t flexed too persuasively on “Simple Pleasures”, which circles its melodic tail like one of Noel Gallagher’s “proper music” sermons, and “A Song About Love”, which lapses into Snow Patrol platitudes.
But US influences galvanise Bugg on the boogie-rocking “Kingpin” and the street-corner snapshot “Messed Up Kids”, where solo artist and sometime raconteur Brendan Benson’s co-writing credit registers keenly.
Elsewhere, Bugg’s Marmite voice invests ballads (“Me and You”), finger-picked reflections (“Kitchen Table”) and lonesome reveries (“Storm Passes Away”) with surprising authority.
“Where will you go when the storm passes away,” he asks on the latter. For Bugg, the answer seems clear: far from Clifton, without much risk of losing his way.
Arts & Ents blogs
St Patrick’s Day 2014: The worst Irish accents in film history
Grace Dent on TV: EDL Girls: Don’t Call Me Racist BBC 3
Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
Chalkie Davies' stunning rock photographs: The Clash, Springsteen, Bowie and more
Game of Thrones star Sibel Kekilli wants more male nudity in the show
Katie Hopkins continues campaign to become Britain's most hated talking head with poorly timed Bob Crow tweet
No EU referendum under Labour: Ed Miliband to reveal that vote on membership is ‘unlikely’ in next Parliament if party wins power
Grace Dent: Who cares if she spells it Barraco Barner? Gemma Worrall is more employable than some bookish arts graduate
The rise of Ukip: Study warns Labour that Eurosceptic party's electoral base now 'more working class than any of the main parties'
Europeans have ‘got whiter’ due to natural selection in past 5,000 years, scientists say
Fracking is turning the US into a bigger oil producer than Saudi Arabia
- 1 Is your name now 'banned' in Saudi Arabia?
- 2 Best films on Netflix: 32 movies that will put an end to your scrolling
- 3 Istanbul protesters take 'Ellen selfie' from the back of a police van
- 4 Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Jet ‘hijacking’ began soon after take-off
- 5 Lady Gaga has struggled with eating disorders in the past, so it's indefensible that she's glamourising bulimia in her SXSW set