Coming from Nottingham, I’ve always felt an obligation to like Jake Bugg, and his first two albums lived up to that. However, I was a bit sceptical going into his latest LP On My One, after hearing the first three songs ‘On My One’, ‘Gimme The Love’ and ‘Love, Hope and Misery’, prior to the album’s release.
“I’m just a poor boy, from Nottingham, I had my dreams, but in this world they’re gone” – the title track opens in this steady, acoustic and notably lonely start to the album. However, his claim that his dreams are gone is a rather confusing one, given the fact he’s now had three top five albums out of three. ‘Gimme The Love’ sees Bugg break new ground with a faster, electric number which, given its frequent use on sports programmes recently, is obviously high quality. The song is an enjoyable listen – if you can get past his voice reaching a whole new level of weird. ‘Love, Hope and Misery’ showcases Bugg’s great potential and natural progression from his previous work with the excellent use of strings on this album introduced, as well as a mixture of electric and acoustics. This is a definite high point.
The rest of the album follows the theme that is set out in the opening songs, in that there doesn’t seem to be one, it feels like a journey through different musical influences that are done well but feel somewhat lacking. ‘The Love We’re Hoping For’ shows an unsurprising acoustic step to the country, yet again showcasing his faux-Dylan accent, ‘Put Out The Fire’ has a clear sound of Johnny Cash with a relentless pace and more of that voice and ‘Never Wanna Dance’ starts off sounding like Dido and eases into calm, horned number, pleasing to the ear.
The next portion of On My One has an electric feel with ‘Bitter Salt’ and ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’, and although they share their electricity and incredibly repetitive choruses, they couldn’t be more different. ‘Bitter Salt’ has a pounding beat throughout with growls of electric guitar and an insistence that he won’t do what he’s told. ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’, however, is perhaps the most confused I’ve been musically in a long time. It seems like a Rat Boy impression and a mixture of American and Notts’ accents, along with what appears to be his attempt at a political statement (yet the chorus just repeats the title).
The final three songs are ‘Livin’ Up Country’, ‘All That’ and ‘Hold On You’, which head back to the calm country acoustics before refreshingly finishing with a 50s feel.
Overall, this is clearly a touring album with different sounds, talks of loneliness and mentions of different US cities. If it weren’t for his distinctive voice, it would seem like a playlist rather than an album. While it can feel like an unoriginal album due to how heavy the influences are, it is musically fantastic. This is seen especially in ‘Gimme The Love’, ‘Bitter Salt’, ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’ and ‘Hold On You’. However, lyrically there is a lot to be desired and if you can’t cope with Bugg’s distinctive voice, then it isn’t the album for you.
Words by Will StricksonBy Will Strickson