Tooth & Nail

Metascore
75

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
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  1. Mojo
    Mar 11, 2013
    100
    New stuff for him every bit, from pain to process, and consequently unprecedented in his previous work is the sweet melancholy measure of his voice. His songwriting, too, emerges liberated, lyrics forged, melodies flowing. [Apr 2013, p.86]
  2. Entertainment Weekly
    Mar 21, 2013
    91
    His perfectly weathered voice brings out the simple sweetness of breezy heartbreakers. [22 Mar 2013, p.64]
  3. Jun 4, 2013
    80
    Tooth & Nail is probably the most accurate and all-encompassing illustration of the great man’s worth.
  4. Just like Levi Stubbs, he can't help himself.
  5. Mar 18, 2013
    80
    Weary then, but, as ever, authentic.
  6. Mar 14, 2013
    80
    Billy Bragg has released his classiest-sounding album to date.
  7. 80
    It’s Bragg’s voice that’s most prominent of course: warm and resonant, but also mournful at times, tinged with regret, that of an old soul looking at the world and shaking his head at its follies.
  8. Mar 11, 2013
    80
    Through its songs he conveys truths about this country in a way that few other English songwriters, if any, are able to do.
  9. Mar 13, 2013
    78
    Less a pessimistic declaration than a call for release, the tune ["January Song"] sets a contemplative tone that rings throughout.
  10. Magnet
    Apr 16, 2013
    70
    There's both freshness and familiarity to this live-in-the-studio effort. [No. 97, p.53]
  11. 70
    The scope may be smaller this time around, but in the end, the record delivers the same smart, sometimes funny, always impassioned results.
  12. Mar 21, 2013
    70
    The tone of Tooth and Nail, lyrically and musically, is “mature” and “sophisticated” in a way that stops short of dull and ends up feeling pleasantly familiar, like reuniting with an old friend.
  13. Mar 19, 2013
    70
    Bragg and producer Joe Henry, owner of the aforementioned basement where Tooth & Nail was recorded, make for a solid team, allowing their shared love of rural Americana to run wild and each song enough elbow room to get comfy by sticking to a pantry of few seasonings.
  14. Mar 15, 2013
    70
    Tooth & Nail is mellow, but not un-edgy.
  15. Mar 13, 2013
    70
    Despite the occasionally more personal tone to Tooth & Nail, he continues his role as social commentator magnificently.
  16. Mar 13, 2013
    70
    It’s all very soft and comfortable, musically speaking, like an old couch you can’t get out of.
  17. Mar 11, 2013
    70
    It features some undeniably strong songs but is lacking a vitality which would make it a convincing listen. Nonetheless, it’s fascinating in its own way.
  18. Mar 19, 2013
    67
    In spite of its title, Tooth & Nail sounds like a cozy old rocking chair of an album, full of session players, slide guitar, and a songwriter softened by age.
  19. Jul 15, 2013
    60
    With a reflective outlook worthy of Bragg’s now venerable stature, this weathered perspective serves him well.
  20. May 2, 2013
    60
    Though Bragg leaves behind punk rock fire for the personal, there are still political--and optimistic--moments, weariness be damned.
  21. 60
    Only much later, in “There Will Be a Reckoning”, does the familiar Bragg anger kick in significantly.... it's outnumbered here by more sensitive songs about things like relationship difficulties and dying.
  22. Q Magazine
    Mar 11, 2013
    60
    Somewhat laid-back for a record made by an ex-punk, even one in his mid-50s. [Apr 2013, p.96]
  23. Uncut
    Mar 11, 2013
    60
    For the most part, there's nothing wrong with the lyrics. "Do Unto Others" is a fine secular hymn, while "January Song" has some smart digs at the Tea Party, but, in both cases, the voice never convinces. [Apr 2013, p.80]
User Score
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User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Jun 1, 2013
    7
    Billy Bragg returns with his 13th album and it some ways it’s a departure from his usual style but fans will instantly see the similarities toBilly Bragg returns with his 13th album and it some ways it’s a departure from his usual style but fans will instantly see the similarities to the work he did with Wilco on the ‘Mermaid Avenue’ records. ‘Tooth & Nail’ is perhaps the album that Bragg has always wanted to make, gone are the very British tales of kitchen sink dramas replaced by Americana stories of love, desolation and the downtrodden. A keen exponent and lover of all things Woody Guthrie, a version of ‘I Ain't Got No Home’ is included here, Bragg wears his influences with pride and with his impressive backing band and Grammy award winning producer Joe Henry at the helm he has crafted an album in the very tradition of old time country/folk/blues. Stripped back and earthy Bragg has added an American tinge to his London drawl something which may irk some but in context of the album kind of fits. Slide guitar is present in most of the twelve tracks as is shuffled drums and a honky tonk pace. ‘There Will Be A Reckoning’ may lack the kick that a younger Bragg would have given it but it proves that even after all this time he is prepared to get political and has not forgotten his ethics. lyrically we get the humble love song ‘Handyman Blues’ but Bragg is not afraid to also tackle larger issues with references to the Higgs Boson in ‘No One Knows Nothing Anymore’ and biblical origins of right and wrong in ‘Do Unto Others’ while ‘Your Name On My Tongue’ recalls ‘Must I Paint You a Picture’ from ‘Workers Playtime’. ‘Tooth & Nail’ is Bragg doing what he does best, it’s a mature record and a natural progression, ‘Back to Basics’ this is not and nor should it be. The major negative point of most reviews seems to be the relocation of his style stateside but to that I say Bragg is a national treasure and we should all allow him the indulgence of crafting an album that is quintessentially Bragg without necessarily being quintessentially British, which is what he has done. Full Review »