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.
You may be interested in
- Fri 22nd Aug 2014 to Fri 7th Nov 2014 Grandmaster FlashBuy Tickets
- Sat 23rd Aug 2014 ReefThe Watering Hole - Perranporth (Cornwall)Buy Tickets
- Fri 29th Aug 2014 to Tue 2nd Dec 2014 The Temperance MovementBuy Tickets
- Sat 20th Sep 2014 Dreamscape - The Big Reunion: Grandmaster Flash, Mampi Swift, DJ Fabio, Dillinja, Doorly, ...The National Bowl (Milton Keynes)Buy Tickets
- Sun 21st Sep 2014 to Tue 23rd Sep 2014 Dave FormulaBuy Tickets
- Sun 21st Sep 2014 The Askew SistersThe Cabbage Patch/ Eel Pie Club (Twickenham)Buy Tickets
- Wed 24th Sep 2014 to Mon 29th Sep 2014 George WatskyBuy Tickets
- Sat 27th Sep 2014 The Fiddle GirlsCecil Sharp House (Camden)Buy Tickets
- Sun 5th Oct 2014 to Thu 28th May 2015 Martin CarthyBuy Tickets
- Wed 8th Oct 2014 to Fri 6th Mar 2015 FaustusBuy Tickets
- Fri 10th Oct 2014 Model VillageThe Portland Arms (Cambridge)Buy Tickets
- Sat 11th Oct 2014 Don-EJazz Cafe (Camden)Buy Tickets
- Thu 16th Oct 2014 and Sat 18th Oct 2014 Elvis CostelloBuy Tickets
- Thu 23rd Oct 2014 to Mon 10th Nov 2014 Ben Watt: Ben Watt TrioBuy Tickets
- Wed 29th Oct 2014 BluesFest, Elvis Costello, Georgie Fame and the Blue FlamesRoyal Albert Hall (Kensington)Buy Tickets
- Wed 29th Oct 2014 to Fri 14th Nov 2014 Band of SkullsBuy Tickets
- Fri 31st Oct 2014 and Sat 6th Dec 2014 SpiroBuy Tickets
- Tue 4th Nov 2014 Jeff TweedyLondon Palladium (Westminster)Buy Tickets
- Mon 25th May 2015 and Wed 27th May 2015 Tim Eriksen, Eliza CarthyBuy Tickets