Billy Bragg

Tooth and Nail (Cooking Vinyl)

SXSW 2013 Records

Billy Bragg

Tooth and Nail (Cooking Vinyl)

"This is how the end begins," intones Billy Bragg softly on "January Song," opening track to the venerable UK songwriter's first studio album in five years. Less a pessimistic declaration than a call for release, the tune sets a contemplative tone that rings throughout, whether on the politically existential "No One Knows Nothing Anymore," a dire, downtrodden take on Woody Guthrie's "I Ain't Got No Home," or the personally wrenched "Swallow My Pride." Bragg drips these songs with a country feel, steel guitar keeping sorrowful company on "Over You" and "Chasing Rainbows," though the latter's choral plea, "Don't let my complacent mind belie my loving heart," may be a first for honky-tonk. Despite dark rocker "There Will Be a Reckoning," dramatic pull of "Your Name on My Tongue," and mournful "Goodbye, Goodbye," Bragg insists on closing defiantly optimistic with the acoustic "Tomorrow's Going to Be a Better Day." (9pm, St. David's Historic Sanctuary)

***.5

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