Billy Bragg

England / Half English (Elektra)

Billy Bragg

England/Half English (Elektra) Hard to imagine that Billy Bragg hasn't released an album of original songs since 1996. Once recognized in the U.S. mostly for his sardonic college-radio hits, Bragg's Mermaid Avenue collaborations with Wilco have earned the left-tilting Englishman a broader stateside following. Now, Bragg's back in the act with his own band the Blokes -- featuring Austin's legendary Ian McLagan -- and his own set list, singing about the working people, political injustice, and the incertitude of romantic love. You could say that Bragg's Mermaid Avenue apprenticeship with the father of American folk singers, Woody Guthrie, has paid off. England/Half English demonstrates how appropriate it was in the first place that Bragg helped polish up Guthrie's songs. His forthright style, humor, and indignation have been apparent since he debuted as a one-man, unplugged answer to the Clash in the Eighties, while the Blokes have evolved into a dynamite backup band, folding Bragg's own lyrics into tight jams at every opportunity. Winners include the world-beat influenced "Baby Faroukh," the ode to fidelity "Jane Allen," and the timely "NPWA" with its rousing lyric "IMF, WTO, I hear these words just every place I go. Who are these people? Who elected them? And how do I replace them with some of my friends?" Given the rush toward globalization and the corporate co-opting of the White House, this generation could do a lot worse to find a spokesman like Billy Bragg.

***.5

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Music Reviews
Friday ACL Fest 2018 Record Reviews
Curtis Roush
Cosmic Campfire Music (Record Review)

Thomas Fawcett, Oct. 12, 2018

Saturday ACL Fest 2018 Record Reviews
Trampled by Turtles
Life Is Good on the Open Road (Record Review)

Doug Freeman, Oct. 12, 2018

More by Dan Oko
Live Shots
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
SXSW showcase reviews

March 15, 2013

Spotlight: Richard Thompson
Spotlight: Richard Thompson
10pm, Antone's

March 15, 2013

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle