Mermaid Avenue Vol. II - Billy Bragg & Wilco
Mermaid Avenue Vol. II Image

Universal acclaim - based on 12 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 7 Ratings

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  • Summary: Following 1998's successful collaboration Mermaid Avenue, Billy Bragg and Wilco have reunited to bring more of Woody Guthrie's unrecorded lyrics to life.
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 11 out of 12
  2. Negative: 0 out of 12
  1. The music that Bragg and Wilco have wrapped around the exquisite 15 sets of Guthrie lyrics is much more mature, cohesive and layered than its predecessor.
  2. 90
    Vol. II may lack the celebratory tone of its instantly gripping predecessor, but this trip through Guthrie's more tormented thoughts finds Bragg and Wilco yet again forging gold with their musical alchemy.
  3. Songs don't get any better than this, and with the exception of Elliott Smith, no one plays a sad song sweeter than Tweedy & Co. -- it's always a thrill to hear a band maturing into its prime.
  4. 80
    The emotion flows as true as the music.
  5. Volume 2... is an equally resounding success.... [it] draws on darker material, and thus yields more aggressive vocals and frequent minor keys. [#146, p.86]
  6. 80
    As a result of Bragg and Wilco's increasing ease with Guthrie's enormous legacy, this album sees both more experimentation and a stronger contemporary feeling than its predecessor.
  7. As on the first, the Bragg-written and sung music is the most convincing, since he captures the cadences and spirit of Guthrie's music. They sound like classic, weathered folk songs whereas Wilco's numbers are modern inventions, splicing music that is clearly theirs with Guthrie's words.

See all 12 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. RobS.
    Sep 12, 2003
    I don't relate to the reviews that say vol. 2 is sloppy seconds to vol. 1. Maybe it's because I first heard both albums some years after their release. Coming at this as a Wilco fan, the vol. 2 songs strike me as being a lot - a LOT - catchier than their vol. 1 stuff. "Secret of the Sea" is the more hummable brother to vol. 1's "California Stars". "Somewhere, Some Morning Sometime", "Airline to Heaven" and and "Blood of the Lamb" simply don't have equivalent songs on vol. 1 that match their otherworldliness. The production on "Airline" is wonderous....Guthrie would have NEVER done the song this way, which is what makes it so cool. I'd give vol. 1 an "8" rating, too, but I honestly listen to vol. 2 a lot more. It's very possible one could not like vol 1, but love this album. In my opinion, the Bragg-sung material is better here, too, than his offerings on the first album. Expand
  2. JossS.
    Dec 25, 2001
    another solid release of guthrie material all done up modern. wilco and bragg breath life into the material as usual, but not as catchy, fun, or about any positive adjective as vol. I. go listen to vol. I if you haven't heard it yet, and if you love then come back to this one. Expand