It is artists like Jake Bugg that help restore your faith in modern music. Drawing influence from artists such as Bob Dylan, Nick Drake and Elvis Costello, this 19 year old singer-songwriter has taken classic rock n’ roll and re-marketed it in a nice little easy to swallow package. Even fans cannot be blind to his clever marketing. Rick Rubin produces the album and the impressive star-studded band includes Chad Smith of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Elvis Costello drummer Pete Thomas. Bugg may be taking an old sound and giving it a modern theme but his image, style and musical direction is one very carefully and cleverly put together and maintained by an experienced team of artists and songwriters.
He is a natural born hit maker, however – with songs that catch you at first listen and resonate for hours, finding yourself tapping beats and humming rhythms you barely know for the remainder of the day. Shangri La is also innately personal. He sings of every young man’s struggles with love, his frustrations with society and his hope for change. ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’, is a guitar driven, passion fuelled critique of the dangers of drugs, drinking and fighting, all aspects of modern day life according to Bugg.
It is interesting to see though how this rock and roll star in the making can capture the essence of guitar driven melody and yet so easily also capture the more sombre and heartfelt folk style of Bob Dylan. ‘Me and You’ and ‘Songs About Love’ explore Bugg’s heartbreak and longing for something meaningful. Both are naturally a slower tempo than his usual up-beat quick-rhythm rock, but they do not lack in punch. His surprisingly endearing voice gets a chance to shine and keeps your ears interested throughout. An album filled with emotion and experience beyond his years, Bugg may be the product of clever marketing and although his image is one that could be easily mocked, his talent and song-writing prowess shouldn’t be.