Saturday, October 30, 2021

Billy Bragg • Mid-Century Modern • 2021




Of course Billy Bragg is singing about resilience on his latest album: in one form or another, he’s been exploring that idea all along. The Million Things That Never Happened is Bragg’s first solo LP since 2013, and a million things have definitely happened since then, including a worldwide surge in political nativism, Black Lives Matter and a growing awareness of police brutality, and a global pandemic. In other words, there has been plenty to test the resilience of a singer and songwriter with Bragg’s outlook. Although time has softened the sharp edges that characterized Bragg as a young man, and the sound of his music has evolved, he has never strayed far from the themes that inspire him. They’re apparent on the new album in “Mid-Century Modern,” where he acknowledges that even his own views remain a work in progress. Admitting that you don’t have all the answers is an act of deference from a guy whose songs have been rallying cries for equality and justice for close to 40 years, but Bragg is self-assured enough to open himself up to new perspectives. —Eric R. Danton

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