No doubt there are worse legacies, but one shouldn’t overlook Bragg’s long solo career, which has steadfastly centered on the concerns of everyday blokes just looking to live a righteous life via the love of a good woman and the unswerving guidance of lefty politics.
He started as a snot-nosed Class of ’77 punk from the appropriately named Barking, a suburb of eastern London, before evolving into, at age 55, an esteemed British citizen who is expected to weigh in on just about every socially vital issue under the sun (he was especially busy in the U.K.
press when Margaret Thatcher died recently).Curiously, Bragg’s first album in five years, Tooth & Nail, is a wistful, less politically inclined affair anchored by the tasteful production work of Joe Henry. “Handyman Blues” makes light of Bragg’s inability to help out around the house (“Don’t be expecting me to put up shelves or build a garden shed/But I can write a song that tells the world how much I love you instead”), while “Your Name on My Tongue” is as beautiful as anything this still-dedicated rabble-rouser has yet offered.
BILLY BRAGG performs Tuesday, April 30 with Kim Churchill at Southgate House Revival in Newport. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.