Billy Bragg has segued from firebrand to family man with grace and dignity, yet he still breathes the passion of his convictions in a way few artists do. And we expect no less. Label: ANTI
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Videos by American Songwriter
Billy Bragg has segued from firebrand to family man with grace and dignity, yet he still breathes the passion of his convictions in a way few artists do. And we expect no less. On “O Freedom,” he asks “what liberties are taken in thy name?” The opener, “I Keep Faith” is a gorgeous, simple testament to the strength of love and humanity in the face of so many evils. “I know it takes a mess of courage to go against the grain/You have to make great sacrifice for such little gain/And so much pain,” he sings. “And if your plants come to nothing/Washed out in the rain/Let me rekindle all your hopes and/Help you start again/Because I keep faith…in you.” In “If You Ever Leave,” he nakedly conveys his own vulnerability, creating the purest of love songs in the process. Augmented by the talented Blokes and Ian McLagan on keyboards, Bragg visits gospel and even modified ragtime, mostly to winning effect. Even when he missteps, as he does with the dated-sounding “The Johnny Carcinogenic Show,” you’ve still gotta love him for fearlessly revealing his heart and soul in such compelling, and often hummable, ways.