Billy Bragg – Tooth & Nail

In this context a sweetly romantic song like Handyman Blues, a quotidian tale where Bragg contrasts his impractical DIY skills with his talent for poetry, can’t help but take on the sense of someone withdrawing from the world and finding solace in his personal life. This is furthered on perhaps the album’s most compelling song, the gorgeously lilting Your Name On My Tongue, where the name of Bragg’s object of affection is “hanging like surrender” in his mouth. This intimate love is made general on Do Unto Others, a simple and amiable ode to how the proverb of the title remains the “greatest commandment of all”. Yet even this is undercut by the observation that there are “too many people looking after number one”. The album’s one pure moment of optimism comes at its close in the form of another song lifted from Pressure Drop, Tomorrow’s Going To Be A Better Day. It’s a declaration that better days will come, complete with carefree whistling, yet it seems lackadaisical after the listlessness which so dominates the preceding songs.

Review at link etc.

Billy Bragg – Tooth & Nail

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