Billy Bragg – The Million Things That Never Happened (2021) [Official Digital Download 24bit/48kHz]

Billy Bragg – The Million Things That Never Happened (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/48 kHz | Time – 46:15 minutes | 515 MB | Genre: Alternative, Indie
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Cooking Vinyl Limited

Billy Bragg has been the crown prince of pop (and country and “anti” folk) politics—though the Englishman would certainly hate the elitist leanings of that title—going on four decades. His 13th album has no shortage of sly, damning takes on politics; but it’s also full of beautiful life lessons. “Should have seen it coming but I didn’t understand/ That hubris is the enemy of best-laid plans,” he sings on the slow-Sunday-morning soul song “Should Have Seen It Coming,” imbued with warm Hammond as well as both pedal and lap steel. Written during the pandemic lockdown, it’s one of many songs that reference the personal instabilities triggered by isolation. “Good Days and Bad Days” leaps from its spare beginning to become a Carpenters-like piano and mellotron jaunt, with Bragg marveling, “Now I don’t know where things end or begin/ The day of the week or the state I’m in” before a Broadway-worthy chorus underscores the universality. (Later, on “Reflections on the Mirth of Creativity,” Bragg celebrates the simplest pleasures of 2020: birds singing, the sun shining and even the luck of timing traffic lights just right. It recalls the airy music-hall style of George Formby and his influence on the Beatles.) “Mid-Century Modern” sounds so bountiful as Bragg weighs the changing times. “The kids that pull the statues down, they challenge me to see/ The gap between the man and I am and the man I want to be,” he sings, delivering the killer line, “Freedom’s just another word for acting with impunity.” And he really digs into America. Fiddle-powered “Freedom Doesn’t Come for Free” is the cautionary tale of New Hampshire as Libertarian utopia. After they banned all rules and taxation, “No one came to mend the roads/ The street lights faded and the library closed/ And when the garbage overflowed/ Bears came sniffing around” Bragg playfully warns, “if you leave everything to laissez-faire/ You may have to wrassle with a bear.” Soulful “The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here No More” uses a slowed “Rhythm of the Rain” melody to poke at woolly U.S. politics. “Never trust a man who would be king … A nation born in revolution/ Should know this offers no solution,” Bragg sings, before turning his eye to insurrection. “With their God and their guns, what are they fighting for? An all-American sharia law?” Rollicking “Ten Mysterious Photos That Can’t Be Explained,”is a hilarious horror show (“I’ve been down rabbit holes, I’ve seen the rabid trolls/ Cackling in the twilight of the Age of Reason”) about the internet, which Bragg compares to “heroin for autodidacts” and warns, “You know that you can overdose on too much information?” He has said that “I Will Be Your Shield” is the “heart and soul of the album,” as “I’ve come to the conclusion that empathy is the currency of music.” It’s a gorgeous, dramatic piano ballad, and a true love song about the loyalty we can give family and friends. But it’s also like he’s assuring his audience: “When the world beyond your doorstep/ no longer makes much sense … I’ll come to your defense,” he sings. “When … pain stops you from functioning/ Trust in me to care.” – Shelly Ridenour

1-1. Billy Bragg – Should Have Seen It Coming (03:23)
1-2. Billy Bragg – Mid-Century Modern (05:28)
1-3. Billy Bragg – Lonesome Ocean (03:35)
1-4. Billy Bragg – Good Days and Bad Days (04:41)
1-5. Billy Bragg – Freedom Doesn’t Come for Free (03:21)
1-6. Billy Bragg – Reflections on the Mirth of Creativity (03:08)
1-7. Billy Bragg – The Million Things That Never Happened (03:46)
1-8. Billy Bragg – The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here No More (04:44)
1-9. Billy Bragg – I Believe in You (03:03)
1-10. Billy Bragg – Pass It On (03:52)
1-11. Billy Bragg – I Will Be Your Shield (03:31)
1-12. Billy Bragg – Ten Mysterious Photos That Can’t Be Explained (03:38)


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