Now let me say singer-songwriter Jake Bugg is hands down my all time favourite artist in the whole world, so when he released his newest single around two weeks ago I was pleasantly surprised by the harsher, tougher, sound of What Doesn’t Kill You, marking a huge shift from the indie folk/rock sound of his debut album Jake Bugg. For his fans who prefer the tracks with just Bugg’s voice and his acoustic guitar (Simple as This, Country Song, Note to Self, Someone Told Me), it may take some time for the new single to grow on them, but Bugg’s charismatic voice and intimately personal lyrics only get better with each listen.
One of the reasons why Jake Bugg captured my heart with his debut album is his ability to convey such an intimate feeling through his music. The tracks on his debut album paint a clear picture of his life growing up in Nottingham (smoking with his mates, crashing strangers’ parties) while delivering messages of nostalgia, hope, and appreciation for a hard work ethic. He’s proved himself to be an extremely down-to-earth, humble character in his interviews (and of course his music), and it seems he’s doing a great job at not letting the fame get to his head even after playing at huge gigs like Glastonbury and Glasgow Green and receiving praise from legendary artists such at the Stone Roses and Rolling Stones.
If Bugg’s new single sounds a bit familiar to you, it’s probably because he recorded his new album Shangri-La (set to release November 18) at Rick Rubin’s studio in Malibu, California. In fact, Bugg’s second album is titled after Rubin’s studio. The sounds in What Doesn’t Kill You are stronger, rougher, and more confident–in the video it’s just Jake Bugg in his leather jacket jamming away at his electric guitar. I predict a fairly different sound on Bugg’s second album; after all, Rubin’s $2 million studio emits a completely different atmosphere than the British hometown Bugg is accustomed to writing about. Bugg says he wrote his second album with the same attitude as his first, the only difference being the shifting experiences he’s had through his climb to fame over the past year.
Looking at the lyrics to What Doesn’t Kill You, it seems Bugg has lived up to his claim in at least one track. The single speaks about muggings on the streets, heartbreak, and loneliness, but never without the refraining lines “You try you bleed then finally you breathe” to remind you that you can make it through despite all the difficulties.
**WARNING: The video below contains explicit content**