Shangri La is the second studio album from UK singer songwriter Jake Bugg, where his first album had a more folk centred quality, Shangri La has a more dynamic and rhythmic quality. There are some great rockabilly styled songs that mesh well with some of the other songs that have a distinct West Coast feel The album was produced by famed producer Rick Rubin and recorded at his Shangri-La studio in Malibu. It's a very diverse album, more deeply rooted in Americana and benefiting from the West Coast location, the songs have a deeper more personal tone.
The album opens with the thumping There's a Beast and Everybody Feeds It, a rockabilly style charge against our vapid consumerist society,
They grin but they don't mean it
They sing but they don't feel it
They're gone but they don't see it
They can call but they don't heed it
They can think but they don't speak it
There's a beast eating every bit of beauty
And they all feed it.
Bugg knows how to look over his shoulder at his years growing up in a council estate in Nottingham, capturing the impetuousness and frustration and some of the joy of being young. But on his new album his songwriting has begun to mature, his musical palette has grown, no doubt doing so under the influence of Rick Rubin. Songs like All Your Reasons that have that distinct canyon sound, very reminiscent of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, with that gritty Neil Young guitar vibe. Messed up Kids musically recalls the exuberance of mid 70's Linda Rondstadt, against a dark subject matter. It recalls the grimy nature of life in the North of England, dark and dreary with little hope.
The messed up kids are on the corner
With no money
They sell their time, they sell their drugs
They sell their body
And everywhere I see a sea of empty pockets
Beautiful girls with their eyes so dark within their sockets
So far away
It's a washed out Saturday
The sky all pastel shades
Under breeze block palisades
Slumville Sunrise is a pulsating rocker that focuses on the dreariness of Bugg's origins, What Doesn't Kill You is in a similar vein but adding a glimpse of hope even in the depths of struggle. Me and You sees him channelling early Bob Dylan with a more introspective tale of love.