"Bragg is taking stock. He’s now doing it for himself, at his own pace. Those in search of revelation from an old punk with a new perspective will be left hanging."
A Sunday morning, That’s the best time to listen to Billy Bragg’s latest album, Mr Love and Justice. Papers, feet up, dozing. It has a laid back feel and easy rhythms, but it lacks the edge of vintage Bragg. This work is divided.
More sentimental than confrontational, on ‘You Make Me Brave’ he sings of love, making it, keeping it alive, murdering it. Bragg has mellowed considerably.
Still nodding towards the issues with the unfortunately punned up ‘Johnny Carcinogenic Show’, an assault on the tobacco industry. Overall though, the human condition is put on hold while he takes a closer look into his own back garden. His music losing the edge that he presumably now dedicates to his radio documentary work. He still believes everything he’s always told us, maybe he’s just a bit tired repeating himself. The music lacks the soul and spirit.
‘I Keep Faith’ is a great opener, with Robert Wyatt adding his beautiful vocals to what plays out as a pleasant, mellow listen. Purists might miss the man and his guitar in favour of this fuller band sound. Wordsmiths may cringe at the wordplay, ‘M for Me’ most notably. Themes are well balanced though: Love and War, Life and Death, Justice and Foul Play. Bragg is taking stock. He’s now doing it for himself, at his own pace, and mostly on the weekends. Those in search of revelation from an old punk with a new perspective will be left hanging.
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