Friday, 11 September 2009

Mermaid Avenue Volume 1

Time is usually a healer and in the interim between Medulla and todays commute album, Mermaid Avenue Volume 1 by Billy Bragg and Wilco. I may have realised that my words regarding Bjorks a cappella album may have been harsh. If anything they were too complimentary. Its still a dreadful brain scarring album.
Mermaid Avanue then. Many months ago when I reviewed the second volume of songs I touched upon my feeling that I didn’t think Bragg offered the authenticity that I was hoping for. It still exists, but as I think Billy’s contribution to this album isn’t as prominent as the second volume, it is a surprisingly good effort.
The album came about as Woody Guthrie’s daughter wanted someone to interpret the lyrics that her father had left, but instead of the peggy-o ramblings of some earnest young folkie, arran sweater and beard, she wanted a contemporary take that Billy Bragg and Wilco would afford the songs.
Assisted on this album we have the beautiful Natalie Merchant formally of 10,000 Maniacs perform lead vocals on the hauntingly beautiful Birds and Ships. A song that could be her own and this was perhaps the catalyst in her interest in folk music at the start of the millennium.
Tweedy again produces the authenticity and and again you believe what he has to say, but surprisingly you also get a sense that Billy Bragg may have wandered through the dust bowl and he may have lived the life of a hobo in the mid west.
All in all as I return to work, an enjoyable album to ease me into the blunt end of the week. 8 out of 10.

California Stars by Wilco

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