Shangri La

Shangri La

While the U.K. pushed homeboy Jake Bugg to the top of its charts in 2012, in the U.S. a few fans of Bugg’s vintage-flavored, Dylan-meets-skiffle rock ’n’ roll took the young Jake to their collective bosom, impressed with his playing skills and passion. Bugg’s Dylanesque tones both hurt and helped him. For Album No. 2, American producer Rick Rubin took the singer/songwriter under his wing (or, to be exact, to his Shangri La studio in Malibu) and showed the kid how to fatten his sound up with guitars that plug in and rave up: combining his vintage aesthetic with more contemporary wrappings. Bugg also collaborates again with Snow Patrol’s Iain Archer and sophisticated pop auteur Brendan Benson. Shangri La feels more grown up and more rounded; where Bugg’s first album had some truly killer songs, Shangri La offers a few just as strong. There's the pugnacious fit “Slumville Sunrise,” the punky “What Doesn’t Kill You,” the summery lament “Me and You,” and the catchy and radio-friendly “Messed Up Kids.” A handful of tracks demand more time to plumb their depths, like the roadhouse rager “Kingpin” and the brokenhearted “Pine Trees.”

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