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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 1 January 2014
This album has had very mixed reviews, so I was bracing myself for a big disappointment. However, and this is only my opinion, I absolutely love it. I can't find any fault. Musical taste is very personal, so I can't advise anyone to go out and buy it, but I'm so glad I did.
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on 29 November 2013
I pre-ordered this CD because I love his first one so much. This latest offering is just as good! This young lad will go on to great things. I am going to stop now as it feels all wrong waxing lyrical about a boy of 19 when you are a 66 year old granny!
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There was some pre-release criticism of this album as unoriginal and not as good as Jake Bugg's debut album. I have to say that I don't agree. I had the good fortune to receive an advance copy of this, and after listening to it a lot I think it is that rare thing: a follow-up album which is as good (or at least nearly as good) as its deservedly phenomenally successful predecessor. It doesn't have that devil-may-care freshness of the first album - but then it wouldn't because that only happens once. The production is a bit fuller and more sophisticated now, and he's widening his style a little but it's still music of real quality.

Jake Bugg's great strength is in singable songs with worthwhile lyrics, which he performs with skill and real feeling, and he does just that on this album. His fine, distinctive voice is still on great form and driving beats are still often in evidence, although there's a good variety here. There's also a variety of production styles which make the opening track, There's A Beast And We All Feed It sound like early Bob Dylan, Me And You could be from a Donovan Album from about 1968, the guitar in Messed Up Kids has strong echoes of Big Country, the instrumental work on Kitchen Table could be from John Martyn or Pentangle (and the vocal reminds me a little of Jason Isbell in places)... and so on. Personally I love all this. It's very well done and nothing sounds like a poor imitation of an original.

I genuinely think this is a very good album which shows that Jake Bugg isn't just a flash in the pan, and will cement his place in the top rank of young British musicians. Warmly recommended.
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on 5 December 2014
Jake bugg is amazing loved the first album this is equally as good tho different. No filler tunes on here went too see him live also and he was tremendous. Favourites hard to pick probably There's a beast, messed up kids, kingpin and storm passes away. In fact I'm off to go listen to it again now can't get enough.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 November 2013
It was never going to be easy to follow up an album like Jake Bugg's self entitled folksy debut, but 'Shangri La' must have been my most anticipated album of the year. We got a taster of album number two with the singles 'Slumville Sunrise' and 'What Doesn't Kill You', unveiled last month, and I couldn't wait to hear all of it.

I did think that it wouldn't quite live up to it's predecessor, and after the first hearing, I was still of that opinion, but after repeated listens, I can't give 'Shangri La' anything less than five stars. It IS a very good album, and worth the thirteen month wait. Some critics have said that it sounds a little "rushed", but not to me. For a nineteen year old, I have to say that this strong album is quite amazing in it's maturity.

Jake's musical influences are still clearly there, and to be compared the likes of such legends as Bob Dylan must surely be an honour, but the production is now more sophisticated, more harder, and the style of songs are much more varied, with Jake's fast vocals effortlessly complementing his unique style.

Highlights on the record include the tender ballad 'Me and You', the observational 'Messed Up Kids', where Jake reflects on his old surroundings, he recently revealed that after everything that's happened to him, he feels like somebody from the outside, looking into his city and it's fellow working class youngsters from a different perspective, 'What Doesn't Kill You', and the lovely 'Pine Trees', which conquers up wonderful imagery when you listen it.

I think it might still early days for me to decide yet, but I do think that 'Shangri La' could possibly overtake Jake's debut in my musical affections. Despite him not yet reaching twenty, and only releasing two albums to date, I believe that Jake Bugg has already left a considerable legacy of quality music behind him. The future looks good - very good.
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When an artist has such a strong and popular début, there is always a weight of expectation placed on them that makes a second album a daunting prospect. It was, therefore, a little surprising that Jake Bugg was following up last year's breakthrough hit with another album so soon, although that fact that respected and talented producer Rick Rubin was at the helm of the project suggested that it probably wasn't going to be terrible. However, the biggest surprise is that "Shangri La" (named after the studio in which it was recorded), in my opinion, is arguably a better album than its predecessor; the eponymous début showed the raw promise of the artist, whereas "Shangri La" delivers on that promise. Bugg and co-writers Iain Archer and ex-Raconteur Brendan Benson (and guitarist Matt Sweeney on "Simple Pleasures") have penned a very strong set of songs for this release and the excellent band, including Elvis Costello's drummer, Pete Thomas, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers' Chad Smith, truly do justice to the compositions with some very powerful performances. You could be forgiven for thinking that this album is simply more of the same from Bugg, given the album opener, "There's A Beast And We All Feed It", but when you get to track two things start to sound a little different and that's when the truly outstanding material begins.

"Slumville Sunrise" is absolutely fantastic, an upbeat indie stomping monster of a track with a blistering guitar solo. "What Doesn't Kill You" is also excellent, a fast-paced piece which gets the adrenaline pumping whilst it is followed by a track which is its polar opposite, "Me and You", a gentle country-influenced composition which features a nice picked acoustic guitar line and a lovely soaring chorus. The influence of Brendan Benson, an artist and songwriter I greatly admire and enjoy listening to immensely, is apparent on the great "Messed Up Kids", which is an irresistible helping of indie-pop. "A Song About Love" is perhaps one of the best tracks that Bugg has put his name to and showcases a superb, heartfelt vocal performance which surely could invoke an emotional response in even the most cynical heart. The slightly dark "All Your Reasons" is one of the slow-burners on the album but is a fine example of the growing maturity of Jake's writing, whereas the almost instantly familiar and likeable "Kingpin", a two-and-a-half-minute burst of pure energy hits you square in the face the very first time you hear it. "Simple Pleasures" is my last pick of the album, which has the feel of a rock track from the seventies and just oozes class, as does this entire release.

In my opinion, why "Shangri La" is such a triumph is partly because all of the ingredients that made Jake's first album so enjoyable are still all present and correct here, but they have also been added to in order to make an album which has a little more depth and texture. The sound is fuller, the songs a little more ambitious, the writing is slightly more mature and the appeal of much of the material a lot more universal. The quirkiness of Bugg's style and delivery hasn't been compromised at all, but having Rubin as producer and by surrounding himself with great talents such as Benson, Smith and Thomas, their experience and know-how have helped Jake make an album that will please all of his old fans, win himself plenty of new admirers and, simply put, more people will enjoy. Not only is this, in my opinion, Bugg's finest achievement to date (and let's not forget - he's still just nineteen years old), it is also one of the best albums released this year and deserves much critical acclaim and commercial success.
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on 21 November 2013
His first album was one of the most enjoyable I'd heard for many years. There were no songs I disliked - which is almost unheard of - and some absolutely stunning ones, including "Simple as This" which would be one of my "Desert Island Discs". So, like virtually everyone else who bought it, I was looking forward enormously to the second album and purchased it before listening to it. True, the reviews weren't brilliant and, true, the songs I'd heard (like Slumville Sunrise) hadn't impressed me but I really thought that I wasn't going to be disappointed with his second album.

However, after I'd played it, I felt a sense of abject disappointment. There wasn't a single song that grabbed me or held my attention; indeed, I wasn't even sure that I even wanted to listen to any of it again (and I can normally tell whether I like a song on first hearing). Nevertheless, although I persisted and have now listened to it at least a dozen times, I still feel a sense of disappointment. I only really like two songs (neither of which is anywhere near as good as the best on the first album) and find three more merely "OK"; sadly, I have no particular desire to hear the remainder again. I'll no doubt try again, but, if I don't like them after twelve hearings, it's unlikely they're ever going to appeal.

So, what's wrong with the album? Mainly, there's an absence of the wonderful melodies that were on the first album. When I reviewed that on Amazon last year, I said that he was the most outstanding talent I'd heard for many, many years with songs on a par with those of the Beatles, Kinks, Stones and Bee Gees. Maybe I'll still think that after album number three - but I don't think that now. I found a number of songs overstayed their welcome, with uninteresting and unnecessary instrumental fills in the middle, and utterly mediocre drumming and bass guitar work throughout. I don't think he's ever been well-served by his choice of drummer, but the bass guitar work on the previous album added enormously to it. I also found intensely grating his frequent pronunciation of "th" as "v" - "with" becomes "wiv", for example. I can live with it with it in everyday speech but there's no need for it in song: it simply sounds slovenly and, given that it doesn't happen on every song, it's quite unnecessary.

As I submit this review (which, in any case, is only a subjective opinion), I realise that I'm so far in a minority of one and that I could well get a lot of flak , of which that from the trolls which abound on this website will no doubt be quite abusive.

I'll continue to follow his career with interest and look forward to hearing album no 3. I'm pleased that so many people are thoroughly enjoying Shangri La; I really wish I was one of them

Incidentally, on YouTube there is a song of his called "The one I never knew" which has had over 96,000 hits. It's a pity that didn't make it onto the album.
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on 5 October 2014
This album is as good as the first and appeals to all ages which includes myself (the wrong side of 40) and both my daugters 14 and 17, its played in the car constantly, our favourite tracks would be slumville sunrise, What doesn't kill you and Simple pleasures. Hopefully, as Jake Bugg is still such a young talent, there will be plenty more music to come.
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VINE VOICEon 17 February 2016
I'm a massive fan of Jake's music; as well as owning both his albums, I love to look up demos and live performances on Youtube. I wish he'd include some of those tracks on an album someday!!

Shangri-la is different to the first album; it definitely sounds smoother, and Jake's getting into his stride as a singer and sounding more confident - but don't worry, he still had that jarring touch of worldly innocence to his lyrics, and that raw edge to his gorgeous voice.

So, the big question - is it better than the first album? That's hard to answer, because I do feel that his two best songs ever are on the first album (Fire and Simple as This) and nothing on this album has taken their crown. However, *overall*, yes, I do feel it's better. It's more mature and you can feel him growing as an artist. There's more cohesion between tracks, they flow better, and unlike the first album there's not a single track I skip.

'Messed up Kids', 'Song About Love', 'Me and You' are the hard-hitting blockbuster trio in the middle of the album, arguably the strongest tracks, and it tails off with the cheerfully bluesy, country-fied 'Storm Passes Away'. Jake does country so well - I want to hear him cover a John Denver song!

I find myself breathless waiting for his next album. I boggle at this young man's talent, and drive, and as long as he remains consistent I will buy anything he puts out. His voice is mesmerising and I could listen to him sing the phone book! One of my favourite albums, well-worn from use. Can't recommend happily enough.
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on 18 November 2013
What I found amazing about the first album was that Jake Bugg sounded like someone who'd assimilated all his influences, taken the best bits from each and then written his own material to top them in every style he's chooses to attempt. To have that level of mastery at his age seemed impossible.
I thought he couldn't do it again.
But here he is with Album Number Two. The influences are if anything wider, his mastery of each one still seems effortless. I can hear bands like Oasis and the Arctic Monkeys in the mix now, as well as the Sixties sounds of Dylan, Johnny Cash, Donovan and early Rolling Stones. The thing is, every time he tries a new style, he seems to nail it; he seems to add his own little stamp to it as well. I don't remember hearing an artist who can do so many different styles well since the Beatles were doing Sgt Pepper and the White Album.
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