It’s hard to know what Bugg wanted this album to be.
Label: Virgin EMI
Released: June 17th 2016
Across his first two albums, Jake Bugg was the sole writer on only seven out of twenty-six tracks. It’s all too easy to take that and burn it as fuel for criticism, but it’s arguably harsh to direct it all exclusively at the artist when they’ve been so heavily assisted in the songwriting department. This time around, he’s penned the entire LP himself. Now he’s fully exposed.
As much as second LP ‘Shangri La’ was a flat-falling rushed release, it had at least some identity. ‘On My One’ – that’s a variation of “On my own” used in Bugg’s hometown Nottingham, FYI – displays little semblance of one, awkwardly stumbling from one pseudo-form of a genre to another.
It’s hard to know what Bugg wanted this album to be – or perhaps he was going for disjointed mishmash all along. He dabbles unconvincingly in country (‘Livin’ Up Country’), blues (‘Hold On You’) and, in what proves to be a big mistake, rap. “This ain’t no rhyme / This ain’t no rhyme / This ain’t no rhyme / This ain’t no rhyme,” he insists like a broken record on – wait for it – ‘Ain’t No Rhyme’. As for ‘Gimme The Love’, we’ve all heard the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ‘Can’t Stop’, haven’t we? Enough said then.
Does ‘On My One’ hold much musical value? No. Comedy value? Yes, to be fair. There’s plenty of it to be found in its lyrics, not least on the title track. “I’m just a poor boy from Nottingham / I had my dreams, but in this world they’re gone, they’re gone,” begins Bugg amidst the album opener’s contrived aura of doom and gloom. The worst part is he sounds like he means what he’s saying sincerely.
Ultimately, this latest effort just serves to prove that Jake Bugg needs the help of other songwriters. Moving to self-write a record and play and self-produce most of it is laudable as an approach, but when the results are this disastrous, how impressive really is that? Tom Hancock