By Kalkidan Tadese, Contributing Writer
Jake Bugg’s Got Jokes, but his music isn’t one.
Jake Bugg’s fourth album “Hearts That Strain” was released this past September and
features the country folk, americana tunes of “How Soon The Dawn,” “This Time,” and
“Southern Rain.” The singer-songwriter’s meteoric rise in 2013 is gossiped to be long behind
him, but the set Bugg performed at The Town Hall spoke a different reality.
His concert, early this December, was opened by Wild Rivers, a duo he spotted in a cafe
in Toronto. Appreciating the indie band on a greater stage, his own, Bugg introduced his fans to
his tastes, and meticulously molded musical makeup. Bugg is known to be influenced by the
classics of the 20th century British scene — the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Robert Johnson — and
brings that world back through his rusty, rugged sound.
Covering his most-favored pieces from his first to his most recent album, Bugg swayed a
crowd, albeit seated, to move and feel the music with him. His intimate performance was
composed of a darkened stage, a guitar, a gin and tonic, and a musician, singing and stringing
along his fans with tunes of simplicity and infectious emotion. Bugg started off the night with
“Hearts That Strain,” the album-defining feature on his latest record. His voice added a sense of
melancholy to the song, while his presence warmed up the audiences and settled on a
reminiscent tone to carry the rest of our night. The singer-songwriter played “Southern Rain”
and “Saffron,” speaking to the audience here and there while he made guitar swaps with stage
crew. Girls seated in the mezzanine would yell out to Bugg with cries of his beauty and his
replies of sarcastic and dark humor would leave the rest of his fans lively with laughter, in
between the blues and melancholia.
Critics of the artist have been known to diss Bugg’s ability to get wrapped up in his own
world. He has, apparently in his past tours, struggled with leaving his audience behind, but this
tour has proven otherwise. Bugg’s stage presence is different. It isn’t the running from stage left
to stage right, or hours of pelvic thrusting, but more of a quite captivating, like the enchanting
scent of fresh homemade cookies, almost wafting anyone else into following the stories of his
songs and his sorrows, as his memories and music remain spellbinding and contagious
throughout his set.
The English artist returns to Nashville, when not taking on international tours. The city
brings him to connect and concentrate on writing and composing heartfelt pieces, but Bugg
promises to return to the big apple again, and soon. Bugg’s Town Hall concert was nothing like
the concerts of Terminal 5 or Madison Square, and we need more of that, more beyond what we