Billy Bragg – “I Will Be Your Shield”

Billy Bragg – “I Will Be Your Shield”

The great British singer-songwriter Billy Bragg, one of the most reliable left-wing good guys in all of music, has just announced plans for a new album. This fall, Bragg will release The Million Things That Never Happened. A press release calls it “the first pandemic blues album of our time.” That seems unlikely, but you can certainly see why recent circumstances would’ve brought some fire out of a guy like Billy Bragg. Bragg recorded the album in England, and he wrote all 12 songs by himself except for closing track “Ten Mysterious Photos Which Can’t Be Explained,” which he co-wrote with his son Jack Valero. (Valero also plays guitar in Bragg’s band.)

Bragg is gearing up for a livestreamed concert performance, so instead of a traditional album-announcement single, he’s shared a video of himself and his band performing the tender love song “I Will Be Your Shield.” It’s a pretty, reassuring ballad. Bragg sings in plain language over spare instrumentation, and he talks about offering someone else support: “In the battle against your demons, I, I will be our shield/ When the world has lost all meaning, together we’ll stand, for our love is the one thing that’s real.

Talking about the song, Bragg says:

To me, this is the heart and soul of the album. I’ve come to the conclusion that empathy is the currency of music — that our job as songwriters is to help people come to terms with their feelings by offering them examples of how others may have dealt with a situation similar to that in which listeners find themselves. After what we’ve all been through, the idea of being a shield, physically, emotionally, psychologically, really resonates.

Below, watch Bragg and his band playing the song and a trailer for the album, and check out the tracklist.

01 “Should Have Seen It Coming”
02 “Mid-Century Modern”
03 “Lonesome Ocean”
04 “Good Days And Bad Days”
05 “Freedom Doesn’t Come For Free”
06 “Reflections On The Mirth Of Creativity”
07 “The Million Things That Never Happened”
08 “The Buck Doesn’t Stop Here No More”
09 “I Believe In You”
10 “Pass It On”
11 “I Will Be Your Shield”
12 “Ten Mysterious Photos That Can’t Be Explained”

The Million Things That Never Happened is out 10/8 on Cooking Vinyl.

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