When it comes to solo artists current state in the music industry, third album releases tend to be viewed as a reassuring achievement since the artist has already set the standard with the first album and proven that one can maintain that standard with the second. But, contrary to popular belief, 22-year old musician Jake Bugg is facing the opposite circumstance with the release of his junior album, On My One, an entirely self-composed and self-produced (minus three songs), album by Bugg himself.
The opening self-titled track captures the notion of feeling alone, both in life and in the studio, perfectly and has a title to match that attitude since, “On My One” comes from the Nottingham dictum meaning, “on my own.” This feeling is sustained throughout the duration of the song with a lone acoustic guitar accompanying Bugg as he soulfully voices his struggles, offering the song a darker twist. The album takes an upbeat turn with, “Gimmie the Love,” a successful effort for him to reach out of his musical comfort zone, straying from his classic rock-folk sound and, instead, experimenting with catchy hooks and overlying-vocals. Bugg’s risks make this his most ambitious song to date.
“Love, Hope, and Misery” sums up the inescapable mixed emotions which often develop from falling in love, even during failed attempts to blatantly disregard them. These elements, including guitar riffs that build up to a full orchestra, combine to create a song comprised of a blues/sappy 80’s love song fusion. Bugg returns the listener to the sense of hopelessness he portrayed in the opening song with “The Love We’re Hoping For” as Bugg loses any sense of optimism he held towards the one he loves in the previous song.
Bugg returns to his classic sound while simultaneously channeling a 1960’s Bob Dylan vibe in, “Put Out The Fire” – a song I can promise you listeners will be dancing to for months to come. Mixed emotions return in the R&B infused ballad, “Never Wanna Dance” in which he expresses the inner-conflict of whether to stay with someone he might inevitably hurt by not living up to ones standards. The chorus line encapsulates this notion, as he smoothly sings, “Cause you don’t need a guy like me who never wants to dance.” Continuing with this theme, “Bitter Salt” plays out a fight in which the instrumentation matches the intensity of the lyrics. Bugg again dips his toes into new waters by adding a hint of a symphosizer in the chorus.
Giving the listeners a break from love, Bugg takes a crack at two different genres: rap, in “Ain’t No Rhyme,” and country in “Livin’ Up Country,” leaving the listener both impressed and refreshed. The album comes full circle in “All That” as he takes the listener on a journey from New York to Los Angeles. Even though the simplicity of the song matches the opening track, the attitude is the opposite as he expresses his current contentment with the lyric, “I was a man who lifted his head when times of heart ache were holding him back from all that.” Bugg takes back control of his emotions in the closing track, “Hold One,” turning his regrets into stepping stones for growth.
Overall, On My One was an album of firsts for Jake Bugg, ranging from self-producing to diving heard first into new genres. But, if he proved anything with the release of his third album, it’s that he’s not afraid to take risks, leaving other artist in the dust who refuse to step out of their comfort zone that’s fixed under the spotlight. On My One boldly proclaims that Jake Bugg is not of those artists.
On My One is available now here.