Review: Tooth and Nail - Billy Bragg
by Andy Snipper
Maybe it is his age or maybe he is seeing the same problems coming around yet again but he sounds almost resigned on songs like January Song and Swallow My Pride but his version of Woody Guthrie’s I Ain’t Got No Home tears at your soul although I’m not sure whether a depression era song about homeless and migrant labor is quite suited to today's welfare society.
Handyman Blues is quite the best love song I have heard in years – singing to his love that he isn’t a handyman, just a songwriter and poet; it’s difficult to imagine anyone not falling for a line like “I’m a lover not a decorator”.
The pace of the songs is almost jaunty, just about sauntering, but his vocal style has added a country element to it alongside his Dagenham drawl and it works with the somber pace of the music, making a unique sound.
Goodbye, Goodbye is pure melancholia – a song of goodbye that wrenches at the heart of anyone who has lost a dear one and if it gets released as a single could just be the biggest song Bragg has ever written.
12 songs on the album and the lyrics of all of them are worth listening to but for once the music rounds the words off leaving an album you can just enjoy as well as one to be understood.