3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Deluxe is superior,
This review is from: Tooth & Nail (Audio CD)
The Deluxe Edition of Tooth And Nail is probably the best package for extras I've ever seen for a music CD. Looking like an old Ladybird book, it includes a DVD of Billy's often highly entertsining promo videos from the 80s and 90s, the lyrics for the new album and a handful of articles written by the artist for Q magazine. Beautifully presented but what of the music itself...
Billy sees Tooth And Nail as something of a continuation of the Mermaid Avenue albums he made with Wilco at the turn of the century. Recorded with four supporting musicians over just five days in Joe Henry's studio in South Pasadena, the emphasis is a bit more country than the folk-rock of the Wilco LPs but is nevertheless a very good album of Americana.
Mostly acoustic with none of the clanging electric guitar of Bragg's early albums, the musical settings bring out the very best of Billy's once maligned voice which has never sounded better. The lyrics also complement the music well with a general downbeat, world-weariness not typical of this usually most chipper of artists. Partially influenced by the recent death of his mother, the more introspective highlights include No One Knows Nothing Anymore, Over You and the simple but melodic opener January Song. "This is how the end begins".
It's not all doom and gloom though with the touching Handyman Blues, a humorous ode to all sensitive men who struggle once the package from B&Q arrives. As always with Billy, there's also a large degree of hope in particular with the closing Tomorrow's Going To Be A Better Day - a beacon of light at the end of an album which, like many these days, fades slightly over the final third.
Probably not quite Billy's finest album musically then but still a very fine LP and honest artistic statement. It still has plenty of highlights so I would give the album alone four stars - though the Deluxe Edition certainly deserves the full five.