Mermaid Avenue

A rut-stuck British folkie and a neo-roots American band, adding music to newly unearthed Woody Guthrie lyrics — sounds like a dull college folk class, eh? Surprise. First, those lyrics are wonderful: ”Christ for President” speaks to Guthrie’s sardonic side, ”One by One” to his sad-balladeer tendencies, and ”Walt Whitman’s Niece” to his bawdy streak. Second, on Mermaid Avenue, Billy Bragg and the otherwise callow Wilco make the many moods of Woody spring to life with boozy, woozy roughhouse folk rock. It may feel like school, but at least the classroom’s rollicking. B+

Mermaid Avenue
  • Music