Maintaining interest can be almost impossible when you gain eminence as a teenager. In truth, only a handful have avoided becoming a ‘Where are they now?’ tale. For Jake Bugg, he’s had to work hard to rid himself of the shackles of his much-loved debut, and on Saturday Night, Sunday Morning, he proves that he’s not yesterday’s news.
Through no fault of his own, the last four years since he released his previous album, 2017’s Hearts That Strain, have been a frenzied rollercoaster. The record was the lowest charting of his career, albeit it still landing in the top ten, but Bugg would leave Virgin EMI after it. The album remains an impressive rustic Nashville record, making it an idyllic accompaniment for a Sunday morning cup of coffee, yet, the lack of radio-friendly singles and crossover mainstream appeal stopped it from becoming a hit.
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is an active response to that, and from the moment the opening track, ‘All I Need’, kicks the album off, it’s crystal clear that this is a new era of Jake Bugg. He’s no longer solely the prodigal folk revolutionist he was christened as in 2012, and the gospel-tinged opener demonstrates that from the get-go. It sees Bugg fly his wings and incorporate new elements to his sound, making him sound more expansive than ever before.
Bugg’s recently released singles showcase the plethora of directions he makes pit-stops at across the LP. Still, it never stops feeling like a Jake Bugg record or loses his DNA. ‘Lost’ is the most startling track on the album, as Bugg pivots to creating the soundtrack designed for a picturesque Ibiza sunset. This song couldn’t be further away from traditional singer-songwriter territory. Although, it is reminiscent of his collaboration with Camelphat in 2019 and provides the most vivacious moment on the album.
If you didn’t know better, you would have no idea that Bugg was the artist behind the track. After all, it’s his fifth album; this kind of air of unpredictability should be celebrated rather than playing it safe in a bid to appease those that are still stuck in a musical vortex from 2012.
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning doesn’t see Bugg over-indulge compared to his last two albums, which felt like he needed to make from an artistic perspective. With 2016’s On My One seeing him self-produce, and 2017’s Hearts That Strain scratch his Americana shaped itch.
Undoubtedly, this is Bugg’s most zestful record to date, with the psychedelic tinted ‘Rabbit Hole’ providing the album’s crowning moment. Additionally, the emphatic ‘Lonely Hours’ and ‘Screaming’ sees the 27-year-old showcase his rock ‘n’ roll credentials.
There are sombre heartfelt moments littered across the album where Bugg reverts to his beloved ballads, reminiscent of Hearts That Strain like ‘Maybe Today’, the piano-led ‘Downtown’ and the quaint acoustic closer, ‘Hold Tight’.
After an absence of four years, Saturday Night, Sunday Morning needed to remind people of what they were missing, and Bugg achieves that on the record.
He’s taken time on the record, which is bereft of filler tracks, and his patience has paid dividends. It is more like a compilation of the repertoire he’s quietly been building since we last heard from him, and here Bugg shows why he had insurmountable hype around him in the first place.
The music industry can be a tyrannical beast that always moves on to the next shiny new toy and abandons talents before they’ve even entered the peak of their powers.
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning seems like the first page in a riveting new chapter for Bugg as he moves on from the trappings of the past and glowingly progresses his sound to demonstrate his relevance in 2021.
Saturday Night, Sunday Morning is out on August 20th through RCA.