Billy Bragg: Tooth and Nail (Cooking Vinyl)

 |   |  <1 min read

Billy Bragg: Swallow My Pride
Billy Bragg: Tooth and Nail (Cooking Vinyl)

The self-described Big Nose From Barking has always dealt a lovely line in romantic but clear-eyed sentiment alongside his more obvious political songs. And sometimes the politics has been personal and vice-versa.

This album -- with a excellent small band, recorded by Joe Henry and following the death of Bragg's mother -- finds him in a mostly turned-down and reflective mood. The opener January Song mixes reflections of his mother ("tidy up the place for Monday when she's buried in her dancing shoes") with the political ("[the politician] ask him what he wants to be free from, answer don't make any sense") and sets the tone.

Bragg asks the big questions ("What if there's nothing? No big answers to find?" on No One Knows Nothing Anymore), expresses regret for indiscretions in love (Swallow MY Pride), links back to that tradition which runs from Guthrie to Springsteen (I Ain't Got No Home), and in a country mood offers that great Biblical homily as a path for understanding and cooperation between people (Do Unto Others).

There is also the heartbreakingly simple Goodbye Goodbye.

Bragg has always dealt in the personal but those clear eyes of former years are here slightly misting over and the album sounds the better for its pure emotional connection.

Quite something.

Like the sound of this? Then you should hear this.

Share It

Your Comments

Jos - Apr 29, 2013

Love this album Graham, nice review!

post a comment

More from this section   Music articles index

Punches: Etheria (Punches/Arch Hill)

Punches: Etheria (Punches/Arch Hill)

Singer/bassist Kelly Sherrod and guitarist/singer James Duncan – both formerly in Dimmer among other previous band experiences, she now based in Nashville – follow the dreamy... > Read more

Yo La Tengo: Fade (Matador)

Yo La Tengo: Fade (Matador)

One of the smartest minds and mouths in rock David Lee Roth (of Van Halen) once remarked that the reason so many rock critics liked Elvis Costello was because so many rock critics looked like Elvis... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

BOB MARLEY; RASTAMAN VIBRATION RECONSIDERED: The legacy is music and the message

BOB MARLEY; RASTAMAN VIBRATION RECONSIDERED: The legacy is music and the message

The bassist with Hamilton reggae band Katchafire, Ara Adams-Tamatea, said it: "You go to parties now and they are still playing the same '70s Bob albums 20 and 30 years later. Why is that?... > Read more

Sonny Bono: Pammie's on a Bummer (1967)

Sonny Bono: Pammie's on a Bummer (1967)

Hard to know where you might start with Sonny Bono, the Republican politician who was killed in a skiing accident in 1998. He was of course much more than that and in his late 20s he worked... > Read more