This young English rocker draws inspiration from Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, the Beatles, and Jimi Hendrix.

Jake Bugg
Mercury Records

Folk music ain’t what it used to be. Young English rocker Jake Bugg hit the charts late last year with his self-titled debut album and blew audiences out of the water. His contemporary folk-rock style draws inspiration from Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Cash, and Layne Staley. I heard of Bugg through a friend-of-a-friend, a turn of events I’d like to use as a reminder to all of you that you should be constantly on the lookout for music in places you might not expect– it might work out in your favor.
The album’s biggest hit, “Lightning Bolt,” hit #27 on the UK single charts in late 2012. Jake has claimed in an interview with the Telegraph that Bob Dylan isn’t one of his bigger influences, but listening to this song tells a different story. Bugg’s phrasing of the lyrics sounds­– technical terms here– just like Bob Dylan’s phrasing. Plus, the song flips between stomping acoustic verses and an electrified chorus, which simply brings to mind how Dylan went electric so suddenly. “Fortune, people talking all about fortune / Do you make it or does it just call you? In the blinking of an eye, just another passerby in the path of a lightning bolt.”
My personal favorite on the album, “Two Fingers,” has a deceptively demure beginning before blooming into an anthem of individual defiance. “So I kiss goodbye to every little ounce of pain / Light a cigarette and wish the world away / I got out, I got out, I’m alive and I’m here to stay.” This song has a Beatles feel to it in the dancing bassline and in whatever echoey chorus effect Bugg has on his microphone. It’s easy to forget that Jake Bugg is only 19 when he squeezes so much wisdom into these short songs.
“Stuck in speed bump city, where the only thing that’s pretty is the thought of getting out.” Bugg’s catchy tune “Trouble Town” draws inspiration heavily from Johnny Cash’s early works, and evokes the particular kind of attitude shared only by those people who know what it feels like to feel claustrophobic in a space as big as a city. Jake Bugg’s attitude doesn’t feel fake or pretentious; remember, Johnny Cash wrote all those prison songs long before he actually went to jail and we all respect him just fine. Bugg sings with authenticity, enthusiasm, and plenty of vinegar, and that’s enough for me to listen to what he has to say.
The rest of Jake Bugg’s album is filled with this intriguing marriage of 60’s English folk and 60’s American rock. It’s sunny day music, rainy day music, long summer day music, middle of the night music, sitting alone music, being with friends music, driving down the road music... Give Jake Bugg a quick look on iTunes, Amazon, and other online music vendors today.