Billy Bragg - Tooth and Nail | RECORD STORE DAY

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2013 release, the first new studio album in five years from the veteran British singer/songwriter and political activist. Britain has never needed a Billy Bragg album as much as it needs one right now. Economic strife, unpopular foreign wars and the continued electoral gains of the Far Right mean that the country is gripped with uncertainty, a lack of confidence in its own identity. Far from solving the country's ills, Tooth & Nail promises to reflect the uncertain times in which we live on a personal level.


The songs on Tooth and Nail had their genesis in a comment that turned up in my twitter feed sometime in 2011. It said
something like ‘Getting over break-up by listening to @billybragg, the Sherpa of Heartbreak’. I smiled at the idea of my
love songs doing some emotional heavy lifting for the heart-broken. Most people, when they hear my name, think of
polemical anthems born in struggle. I often find myself having to remind people that I am also the Sherpa of Heartbreak,
writing songs about the struggle to maintain our relationships with those we love the most.
Since the release of my last studio album, Mr Love & Justice in 2008, I’d become rather disillusioned with the record
industry, wondering if there was any place for a middle-aged Billy Bragg in a market dominated by the X-Factor. Plenty of
people wanted to see me in concert, but was there really any point in me going into the studio for six weeks to record
another album? Did I still have the appetite for such a huge undertaking?
2011 had started badly. My mother fell ill in January and passed away six weeks later. Such things force you to take stock,
of where you are, what you’ve been doing, but most of all, what you want to do with the time you have left. The ‘Sherpa of
Heartbreak’ tweet was a nudge, reminding me too that I also write love songs. Driven by this impulse, I put in a call to my
old friend Joe Henry.

Joe and I go back a long way. I’ve admired his lyrical song writing since we first met in the Rockefeller Centre in New York
sometime in the 80s. Over the years, I’ve watched admiringly as he extended his talents into the sphere of record
production. We’d often talked about recording together, with Joe assuring me that making an album need not be a long
drawn out process with an uncontrollable budget.

By the time Joe and I agreed to make the album, my 2012 was already full of commitments. The Mermaid Avenue Complete
Sessions, the album of Woody Guthrie songs that I recorded with Wilco in 1998, was due to be re-issued with 17 extra tracks
in the spring. I had dates booked in Germany and the US and tours planned for Australia and New Zealand. Telling everyone
I was in the studio would have set in train a series of events aimed at getting my new album out as soon as possible.
By going under the radar to make the record, I was able to spend 2012 celebrating the centenary of Woody Guthrie without
having the added pressure of promoting a new album. It is fitting that Tooth & Nail should be my next release after the
re-issue of the Billy Bragg &Wilco collaboration as, stylistically, it is the follow-up to Mermaid Avenue that I never made.
Back in 2000, responding to the troubling rise of the far right in Britain, my next album, England, Half English, addressed the
politics of identity through a multicultural mix of musical styles. Tooth & Nail returns to the rootsy sound of the Mermaid
Avenue Sessions, drawing on soul, country and folk music influences to explore the ups and downs of relationships that have
stood the test of time.
In 2011, I took a long, hard look at who I am and what I do. This album is the result.
Billy Bragg