Billy Bragg – Bridges Not Walls (2017)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 22:46 minutes | 194 MB | Genre: Folk Rock, Singer-Songwriter
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Cooking Vinyl
“Bridges Not Walls” features all of the singles he has released over the summer plus two other gems that stand shoulder to shoulder with every song Billy has written in his 30 year career on the frontline. “Bridges Not Walls” sees Billy Bragg doing what he does best, writing heartfelt and gloriously moving songs confronting the issues of the day. He plugs in his buzzsaw guitar and puts Trumpism to the sword on ‘The Sleep Of Reason’ (Produces Monsters) and his cover of Anais Mitchell’s ‘Why We Build The Wall’; he puts his own spin on Oscar Wilde’s ‘the price of everything and the value of nothing’ on the bucolic folk of ‘Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted’, while the elegant piano ballad ‘Full English Brexit’ nails the attitudes of an all too familiar ageing Little Englander; he confronts the climate change deniers on the country shuffle of ‘King Tide And The Sunny Day Flood’ and celebrates the heroic stand taken by Saffiyah Khan who smiled in the face of right wing thugs at an anti-immigrant demonstration on ‘Saffiyah Smiles’. Always engaged, never predictable, Billy Bragg continues to fight the good fight.
Billy says of ‘Bridges Not Walls’: “Life comes at you real fast these days. What’s a singer-songwriter to do when events keep challenging the way that we see the world? Before we’ve had a chance to digest one startling development, along comes another to throw us off balance again. I’ve been grubbing up songs for the past 12 months, but without the time to get an album together due to other projects, so in an effort to keep pace with these chaotic times I decided to start dropping tracks as they became ready across the summer culminating in a mini album. As always, they’re my way of trying to make some sense of what’s going on. And there’s been a lot going on.”
Early in his career, Billy Bragg often seemed like a “singing journalist” in the manner of his sometime role model Phil Ochs, but there was always a strong element of the personal in Bragg’s work as well, and it grew stronger with the passage of time. But Bragg never stopped singing about the issues of the day, and in the wake of the election of Donald Trump in America and the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, he’s had plenty of food for thought. Bridges Not Walls is a six-song EP that gives Bragg a much-needed soapbox for songs about the chaotic state of the world in 2017. Each of these tracks explicitly deals with a topic pertaining to our current crises economic injustice, global warming, xenophobia, the right to protest, and the ways in in which the free market has become a blunt instrument that harms more than it helps. On “The Sleep of Reason” and a cover of Anais Mitchell’s “Why We Build the Wall” (the latter timelier than ever), Bragg returns to the one-man-Clash buzzsaw guitar style that was his first aural trademark, though most of the time he approaches these songs with the pub rock/contemporary folk hybrid that’s become his standard. Bridges Not Walls is not the work of the angry young man Bragg was in 1983, but his commitment to his ideals and these songs is as strong as ever, and the warmth of “Saffiyah Smiles” and “King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood” is powerful and engaging. The final track, “Full English Brexit,” is nothing short of brilliant, a thorough inventory of the poisoned thinking that led to Brexit put into the voice of one unfortunately typical bloke who fails to recognize his own racism. In a world that’s turning upside down on a regular basis, the topical EP may be just the right format for Billy Bragg’s socially conscious side, and Bridges Not Walls is smart, insightful music from a man who’s made such things his business for nearly 35 years.
01. The Sleep Of Reason
02. King Tide and the Sunny Day Flood
03. Why We Build The Wall
04. Saffiyah Smiles
05. Not Everything That Counts Can Be Counted
06. Full English Brexit