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Review: Jake Bugg – Jake Bugg
Published on October 26th, 2012 | Jonny Abrams
A certain amount of derivation is excusable – after all, artistic influences make for inherently stubborn stains – but is there any need for this kind of watered-down reproduction? We’re talking art-wise rather than sales-wise, because, putting the rampant popularity of both to one side, Jake Bugg is to skiffle what Mumford & Sons are to folk: a pale imitation shorn of all the jagged edges so as to make it palatable to an audience that thinks it’s hearing something new, but only because some cretin realised how much more money could be made out of a brand new artist as opposed to, say, a lovingly and knowledgeably selected compilation of genuinely authentic originals, like one of those Northern Soul packages that no-one bothers buying because the faces of the artists involved aren’t plastered all over giant posters on London Underground.
Look, Jake Edwin Kennedy is probably a really good kid for all we know, but “Country Song”? “Ballad of Mr Jones”? “Seen It All”? This is a 19-year-old from Nottingham, not some grizzled old bluesman who lives by a swamp. This debut album ‘sounds’ ‘good’, to deliberately place both words in inverted commas, but unless the next one’s drastically different then it’s hard to see how this young chap has any shelf life.
“Simple As This” and “Country Song” hint at a Tallest Man on Earth-esque fragility that may yet unfurl into something worthwhile, but otherwise it’s Britpop Hoedowns with instances of modern youth parlance shoehorned in hither and thither, including some faintly desperate-sounding drug references. Bugg’s voice will be satisfyingly raspy to some, annoyingly squawky to others, but that’s not even worth debating when it results in the kind of sickly Smooth FM-verging-on pop we hear on “Broken”.
In short, whoever dubbed Jake Bugg “the new Dylan” needs to be fired into the sun for all of our sakes. Having these homage/pastiche pieces at number 1 is certainly preferable to, say, Nickelback or One Direction, but the evolutionary net result remains the same.
Rocksucker says: One and a Half Quails out of Five!
Jake Bugg’s eponymous debut album is out now on Mercury. For more information, please visit jakebugg.com