Rising musician Jake Bugg sprang forth from Nottingham last year with his debut self-titled album, which has received much praise. His musical style has received favourable comparisons to Neil Young, and more commonly, Bob Dylan. Bugg became an instant hit with his acoustic guitar and an unquestionable amount of soul that is refreshing to see in a talent so young. Being only 19-years-old, age is clearly not a drawback for this British musician. A year later and Jake Bugg is back with his sophomore album, Shangri La.
The album immediately kicks into gear with the short, fast track “There’s a Beast and We All Feed It.” This song has a frantic rock rhythm that carries out into “Slumville Sunrise” and “What Doesn’t Kill You,” the album’s two singles.
There is no denying that the fast-paced songs on the album are good tracks, but it is the slower and more sensitive songs that really stand out and display the shining quality of Bugg’s expressiveness. “Me and You” is sweet and lovely as it laments the end of a relationship, beautifully capturing the melancholy and taking listeners by surprise after a fairly wild beginning to the album. “A Song About Love” is the greatest moment on the album and delivers its first goose bumps to the listeners, with it’s haunting sound and Bugg’s killer vocals. This song marks the mid-point of the album and is where we start to hear the album’s shining moments. “All Your Reasons” has a great guitar sound that drives the song nicely. The acoustic song “Pine Trees” is simple and lovely as it shows Bugg going back to the basics with just him and his guitar. “Simple Pleasures” is another memorable track on the album. The song starts off slow and reflective and immediately draws us in with it’s heartbreaking guitar sound, before shifting into a melody of anger and worry.
All in all, Shangri La is a satisfying album. The first three tracks come across as rushed efforts, but the rest of the album really shows Bugg’s musical depth and his power in delivering emotion. Above the quality of the lyrics or melody, I was able to connect to it emotionally. That being said, Jake Bugg’s second album is definitely worth a listen. It is a solid follow-up that deserves to mirror the success and approval of his debut album.