Billy Bragg and Joe Henry: Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad (Cooking Vinyl) Review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Friday, May 24th, 2024  

Issue #58 - The Protest Issue

Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad

Cooking Vinyl

Oct 05, 2016 Billy Bragg and Joe Henry Bookmark and Share

It’s fitting and almost inevitable that English singer/songwriter Billy Bragg and American singer/songwriter and noted producer Joe Henry should do a record together. And it’s also fitting that given the interest both of them have long had in American folk traditions, they should record an album of covers of songs made famous by Lead Belly (“Midnight Special” and “In the Pines”), Jimmie Rodgers (“Waiting for a Train”), Hank Williams (“Lonesome Whistle”), and others. In fact, the most modern song on here is the 1967 Glen Campbell tune “Gentle on My Mind.” What most of these songs have in common is that they are railroad songs. Instead of going into a studio, Bragg and Henry decided to record all of these live at various train stations; there’s even an interactive map of their journey available to view online.

Bragg and Henry trading off lead vocals and beautifully harmonizing with Bragg (whose very British-sounding vocals used to make Jam-era Paul Weller sound American) continuing to affect the American accent he started using on his excellent 2013 album Tooth and Nail. Acoustic guitar and the occasional harmonica are the only instruments used and in this case, less is definitely more. (

Author rating: 8/10

Rate this album
Average reader rating: 4/10


Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published


Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

There are no comments for this entry yet.