Mr.Love & Justice - Billy Bragg Album Review
With his band The Blokes, Billy Bragg comes out of 'recording retirement' after 6 years in the wilderness.
Bragg and musical buddies Ian McLagan, Ben Mandelson, Lu Edmonds, Martyn Barker, Simon Edwards follow their inimitable raw and ready approach once again. He's also joined by guest vocalist Robert Wyatt for one song, opener Keep The Faith which sounds like something out of a Van Morrison songbook. The soulful country tinged formula is raining down all over this release. Bragg isn't one for the big impression musically, and the overall feel is a rather uncomfortable marriage with his band, to the extent, that on the limited edition issue, he's release the same tracklisting as a solo effort, which Bragg devotees will probably prefer. For me Bragg has always been a solo performer, and always will be. On I Almost Killed You there's a strong Irish musical connection, nice splashes of harmonica, accordion and echoed handclaps aplenty punctuated by edgy guitar solos. M for Me is a gentle acoustic lead ballad which is a typical Bragg composition that is sharply contrasted by the rough - edged bar band sound on the R'n'B shuffle of The Beach Is Free. On You Make Me Brave and If You Ever Leave he's reflecting on relationships, though they're limp ballads, like a man resigned to accepting how they are, or should be. Above all, there's no indication of any heartfelt emotion, instead a kind of middle aged acceptance. The last three song sound like a man who hasn't thought through the fact he's confronted with making an entire album, which after half a decade, isn't a good creative sign.
Knowing Bragg's passion for having a pop at what he considers to be an injustice, it's surprising the lack of real conviction and his forte, passion. Maybe, as he approaches the big 50, he's mellowing after all, and it's a great shame because this doesn't match anything from his effusive past. There's too much of a sing-along quality like Sing Their Souls Back Home and I Keep Faith In You.
File under: Bitterly disappointing.
- Thu 1st May 2014 Billy BraggEventim Apollo (Hammersmith)Buy Tickets
You may also be interested in
- Wed 18th Dec 2013 to Sat 21st Dec 2013 Kim Wilde, Nik KershawBuy Tickets
- Tue 31st Dec 2013 New Year's Eve Party, Bellowhead, Spiro, Brass RootsColston Hall (Bristol)Buy Tickets
- Sat 11th Jan 2014 Richard Blackwood: Live and UncutIndigO2 (London)Buy Tickets
- Thu 30th Jan 2014 Emma Sweeney, Lucy Ward, Emily Portman: WomenfolkBand on the Wall (Manchester)Buy Tickets
- Fri 31st Jan 2014 Martin CarthyBand on the Wall (Manchester)Buy Tickets
- Thu 27th Feb 2014 Dave FormulaBand on the Wall (Manchester)Buy Tickets
- Fri 28th Feb 2014 Kathryn Roberts, Sean LakemanHanger Farm Arts Centre (Southampton)Buy Tickets
- Sat 1st Mar 2014 Kathryn RobertsSt Bonaventure's Club (Bristol)Buy Tickets
- Wed 5th Mar 2014 Get the BlessingJazz Cafe (Camden)Buy Tickets
- Tue 18th Mar 2014 Faustus, Benji Kirkpatrick, Folk NightThe Unicorn Theatre (Abingdon)Buy Tickets
- Thu 27th Mar 2014 Annie WhiteheadVortex Jazz Club (London)Buy Tickets
- Sat 19th Apr 2014 and Sun 20th Apr 2014 Bellowhead: Bel10wheadBuy Tickets
- Fri 9th May 2014 Jim MorayCaroline Street Social Club (Shipley)Buy Tickets
- Mon 19th May 2014 Kathryn TickellWaterside Arts Centre (Sale)Buy Tickets
- Thu 17th Jul 2014 Elvis CostelloDe La Warr Pavilion (Sussex)On SaleWed 11th Decat 10am
- Sat 16th Aug 2014 Flashback Festival, Billy Ocean, Kim Wilde, ABC, Jimmy Somer...Clumber Park (Worksop)Buy Tickets