Frank Turner

Poetry Of The Deed

Written by: PP on 06/11/2009 17:08:27

If you're living in the UK, chances are the name Frank Turner (ex-Million Dead) has been mentioned to you in connection with a lot of hype and praise, mostly because this "some half-arsed skinny English country singer" ("Try This At Home") is quite the spectacle when experienced live. His humorous, yet angry and passionate rants about life in general will make you laugh, cry and nod your head in agreement live - and even sing along in places - because of the way he acts out his emotions without the slightest restrain. Back in February he won over an entire The Gaslight Anthem crowd here in Denmark, and now he's trying to do the same on a worldwide scale with his third album "Poetry Of The Deed", his first record to feature a full backing band instead of just him with an acoustic guitar and a drummer.

Even though Frank Turner's acoustic guitar led music can be lumped into the singer-songwriter-folk category, it's still radically different and quite often way more interesting than the stuff you usually hear in the genre. The closest comparison is probably The Hold Steady thanks to the instrumentation ("Live Fast Die Old" could've almost been on "Stay Positive"), but as opposed to the drunken ramblings of their frontman, Frank Turner instead sings - and rants - about life and all aspects of it. Sometimes it'll be about drinking beers at the park with your mates, about living life to the fullest, or the difficult choices of which paths to take in your life. While there sure are a lot of people singing about what he does, not many share his great story-telling skills and his great sense of irony. Seeing this guy live will guarantee laugh-out-loud moments thanks to funny lyrics such as the following:

"In bedrooms across England, and all the Western world, there’s posters and there’s magazines but the music isn’t ours. Because we write love songs in C, we do politics in G, we sing songs about our friends in E minor. So tear down the stars now and take up your guitars: come on folks and try this at home. [...] And there’s no such thing as rock stars, there’s just people who play music, and some of them are just like us, and some of them are dicks. So quick, turn off your stereo, pick up that pen and paper, you could do much better than some skinny half-arsed English country singer."

That's taken from the best track "Try This At Home" - an acoustic 'anthem' played at punk rock speeds. Other highlights on the record include "Sons Of Liberty", "Poetry Of The Deed", "Dan's Song" and "The Road", not because they feature breathtaking instrumentation, but because the stories are thoroughly enjoyable and easy to relate to. In fact, when Frank Turner is at his best, he's one of the best singer-songwriters on the planet. Unfortunately though, when he resorts to singing about girls in many of the slower songs, he's awfully anonymous (see a track like "Isabel"). They just don't have the same appeal as his passionate rants, and the biggest reason for that is that the record isn't a live show. To really enjoy Frank Turner one must focus on his great lyrics 100% and absorb them fully. It just isn't enough to have the music playing on the background while you're chatting on MSN or playing poker, because such a large portion of his appeal lies in his way to engage the crowd with such minimalistic instrumentation. So whilst this album isn't quite the impact album I was hoping for, it's still enough to guarantee that I'll be singing songs about about our friends in E minor come December, when the band will guest Loppen.


Download: Try This At Home, Poetry Of The Deed, Sons Of Liberty
For the fans of: The Hold Steady, Chuck Ragan, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, Dave House, Tom Gabel
Listen: Myspace

Release date 07.09.2009
Xtra Mile Recordings / Epitaph

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