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Billy Bragg
 

Billy Bragg
Mr. Love & Justice
(Anti)

***

“Gas prices are out of control, the war in Iraq seems endless, recession looms,” and Britain’s most infamous radical rocker responds with a collection of love songs, said Steve Knopper in The Washington Post. Billy Bragg, who built a career as a “Woody Guthrie descendant with a Cockney accent,” breaks a six-year recording silence with the “lighthearted pop” of Mr. Love & Justice. This album doesn’t seethe with the vitriolic protest that is Bragg’s specialty, but rest assured that the gruff, outspoken songwriter hasn’t gone soft. Bragg turned 50 last year and seems to have realized that “there’s more to life than politics,” said Darryl Sterdan in The Toronto Sun. Mr. Love & Justice “captures him in a mellow mood,” looking back at his life and reflecting upon the importance of love, family, and fellowship. Bragg hasn’t given up the fight, though; he’s merely tempered his righteous anger. As the album title suggests, he can’t help but voice topical concerns. He attacks the tobacco industry (“The Johnny Carcinogenic Show”) and questions today’s definition of liberty (“O Freedom”). Yet Bragg never gets too fired up, said Glenn Gamboa in Newsday. Surprisingly, his most tender moments—found in the hopeful opener “I Keep Faith” and the “spare, touching” “You Make Me Brave”—are his finest.

 

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