Nottingham teenager Jake Bugg has captured the imagination of his peers like few other acts in the past year, topping the charts with his self-titled debut album.
Edinburgh Picture House
Star rating: * * *
But it must say something about the artistic poverty of his contemporaries that he has done so by drawing musical inspiration from the stars of not his parents’ but his grandparents’ generation – Dylan, Donovan and Don McLean are his fresh-faced touchstones.
Still, there is nought wrong with classic songwriting and Bugg proved himself one to watch in that department, with a set of simple, melodic and relatable ditties about his environment: “meet me at the ring road” he entreated over a skiffly backing from his bassist and drummer. Elsewhere, he was “stuck in speed bump city” on the indie-style urban blues of Trouble Town.
Although a diffident performer, Bugg still warranted attention, not unlike Arctic Monkeys’ frontman Alex Turner, with whom he shares a quiet confidence, an unapologetically nasal vocal and, to a lesser degree, lyrical skills.
Those vocals were not up to a low-slung rock number but suited his rattling rock’n’roll offerings and brought an affecting honesty to troubadour ballads such as Country Song and the beguiling Note To Self. It is these touching vignettes which most strongly advertise his potential as a writer. If he can just figure out a way of truly engaging a crowd with his performance, he will even be able to play them without battling against the noise of chatter round the sidelines.