Shangri La is James Hilton's paradise in Lost Horizon, a timeless kingdom hidden away from the outside world. You can live forever there -- immortal, but secluded. Shangri La is also the name of the almost-as-legendary Rick Rubin's Malibu studio. And now, Shangri La is the name of Jake Bugg's sophomore album.
The Rubin-produced record sees the singer mature in a number of ways. Overall, it's a polished album with a diverse sound, but it goes deeper than that. The subject matter gets a bit more serious, but there's no sacrifice of catchy riffs or musical quality. Spanning genres, each song is a potential radio hit in its own right, but a fair amount of Bugg's grit remains.
Shangri La bounces back and forth from slowed down mellow jams to fast-picked rockers. We've already heard a number of tunes from the record, so we knew what we were in for. The opener, "There's A Beast and We All Feed It," serves as an indicator for the rest of the record: Riffy, rocking folk with solid gold production. "Slumville Sunrise," for which we've already seen the video, picks up the pace and serves as a high water mark for the album. When it slows down, we've got the melancholy "A Song About Love" carrying the torch. "Simple Pleasures" (which happens to be Rick Rubin's personal favorite) is an epic, dynamic number which begins to draw the record to its end. The closer, "Storm Passes Away," is a barebones song that lets listeners down gently. It harkens back to old Hank Williams tunes, right down to the old-school stereo mix.
Bolstered by an absolutely stellar backing band -- Jason Lader on bass guitar, Matt Sweeney on rhythm, and Pete Thomas and Chad Smith on drums -- Shangri La is a huge achievement for Jake Bugg and showcases Rubin's studio mastery throughout. The record is out today in the UK and tomorrow in the States. You can purchase it via iTunes.
Jake Bugg Shangri La tracklist:
|1.||"There's a Beast and We All Feed It"||1:41|
|3.||"What Doesn't Kill You"||2:04|
|4.||"Me and You"||2:58|
|5.||"Messed Up Kids"||2:58|
|6.||"A Song About Love"||3:59|
|7.||"All Your Reasons"||5:08|
|12.||"Storm Passes Away"||2:54|
Source: NPR First Listen