Reviewed by Allen Bacon, The Daily Bosco
The only problem with the self-titled debut album from Jake Bugg a mere thirteen months ago was the fact that it left you wanting more.
Fortunately, for those of us that live in the Western part of the United States, we were treated to some great live performances compliments of a local radio station (KCRW-FM) from the 19 year old phenom.
In those performances we heard some of the songs that made it to his second album, Shangri-La, which drops on Tuesday (11.19.13) but we also heard some great stuff like Bugg's rendition of Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison Blues which did not make it to this album.
While he makes progress in his musicianship and songwriting abilities, Shrangri-La could have very well been the second disc of a two record set on the first album, the styles are so similar, giving us what we liked about the first effort.
The only difference being that his first album was culled from experiences and influences in the first 18 years of his life. This second album was taken from his experiences of the past year after the debut of the first album.
And what a whirlwind year it has been for the young man which has included a short relationship with top model Cara Delevingne, extensive touring, and his highly publicized so-called "feud" with boy band One Direction.
There have been so many comparisons of the young English Singer-Songwriter to the likes of Rock and Folk Legends Early Beatles, Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, etc. that I couldn't help think about his choice of Producer on this new record.
For Shangri-La, Bugg employs Rick Rubin (producer for the likes of Beastie Boys, Run DMC, Kanye West, etc.) and his Zen-like approach to producing, working from his studio in Malibu, CA. Thus the name of the album.
That to me is very reminiscent of when the Beatles partnered with super producer George Martin to create some truly amazing albums.
The album opens with an upbeat nod to very early Beatles and their skiffle influence with "There's A Beast And We All Feed It". The lyrics belie the happy melody though because Bugg worries about living life to the fullest but hoping to have someone near when times get rough.
The next two tracks keep the beat up with "Slumville Sunrise" and "What Doesn't Kill You". On the latter Bugg employs the assistance of Red Hot Chili Pepper's Chad Smith and Pete Thomas with the expected high energy results.
Bugg slows it down for three of the most beautiful tracks on the album with the laid back and acoustical "Kitchen Table", "A Song About Love" and "Me and You " with lyrics like "all of these people want us to fail" and "all the time people follow us where we go". Some believe this is a song about his relationship with Delevingne.
"Messed Up Kids" is a return to the social commentary which was prevalent on his first album. The song tells the story of drug dealer Johnny and homeless girl Jenny.
The album is rounded out with the R&B Number "Kingpin" and the poetic "Simple Pleasures".
In short, Bugg avoids the sophomore jinks big time, and Shangri-La suggests he can be a major player in folk, pop, and rock for some time to come.
Virgin EMI Records
Produced by Rick Rubin
Five Scoops of Bosco