I've been listening to the new Jake Bugg record for a couple of days now, and it is really a great album. Is it the best album ever? Of course not. But for a 19 year old who looks like a razor hasn't even touched a cheek yet, he has more heart than most. "What Doesn't Kill You" and "Slumville Sunrise" are driving anthems. My brother insists that if he had been around back in the day, he could've been a Stone, but I think that he's more Clash than anything. The songs pulse through me to grab all of the garbage that's been collected for the day and rids me of it. Everything's alright.
And then there's the ballads. I expected to wince, and wonder at the decision to have him go there. But he surprised me. He reigns in that big howl of his to deliver tenderness. He doesn't lose all of the broad accent, but it softens. It isn't trite or trivial or ... let me think of another 't' word ... timid. There's a reckless abandon, yes, but I think Jake knows what he's doing and the songs are very direct, which shows that he may not have the years, but he has the soul. In one such ballad, "Song About Love," Jake sings, "Is that what you wanted?/Songs about love/Is that what you hoped you would find/Well it's burning inside/But a song about love's not enough."
How many 19 year olds get that? Apparently, our Jake does.