Frank Turner

England Keep My Bones

Written by: PP on 07/07/2011 18:04:15

"Rock & Roll EP" and "Poetry Of The Deed" were both good releases, but having heard both "Sleep Is For The Week" and "Love Ire & Song", you can't help but be annoyed at the ignorance Frank Turner has for his strengths. Back when he was writing pissed off folk punk in a strictly singer/songwriter format armed with nothing but his voice and an acoustic guitar, you could sense the passion and drive in every song, where his witty lyrics and story-telling ability charmed the listener into dancing and singing along. Perhaps due to his surging popularity, he decided to add a full band behind him to the detriment of that classic folk/punk sound, which has now been exchanged with a standard acoustic-driven rock sound.

"English Curse", an a cappella track from his fourth album "England Keep my Bones", highlights this issue nicely. Although the song isn't very good without any instruments, it serves as a great example of his sublime vocal / lyrical talent, which is in the spotlight when the rest of the band isn't present. Luckily, Turner seems to have realized this to an extent because the band are in a much more subtle background role on this album as opposed to "Poetry Of The Deed", where they had been fully integrated into the sound as if they were equal shareholders in the project with Frank. Though such songs do exist here as well ("One Foot Before The Other", for example), the vast majority of the tracks are very clearly written with the acoustic guitar in mind, while the rest of the guys just add some flavor in where necessary. And like Frank himself sings on album introduction "Eulogy", "not everyone grows up to be an astronaut, not everyone was born to be a king, not everyone can be Freddy Mercury, but everyone can raise a glass and sing.", a mission statement of sorts for the rest of "England Keep My Bones".

So is he successful in getting everyone to raise a glass and sing? To an extent, yes. The EP track "I Still Believe" still sounds solid, and new tracks "Peggy Sang The Blues" and "I Am Disappeared" also stay true to the Frank Turner identity. But are there songs like "Photosynthesis", "The Real Damage" or "I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous" on this disc? Sadly, no. Turner never reaches similar brilliance where folk, punk, acoustic and singer-songwriter meet in a beautiful symbiosis of booze-fueled sociopolitical rage. Instead, songs like "One Foot Before The Other" or "Wessex Boy" are simply good, but not much better than that. Are they ones that make you swim your way towards the front at a packed venue to sing along? Not really, but they are ones you'll happily sing to at the back of the venue. Even though there is improvement from "Poetry Of The Deed", it is only of cosmetic kind. The problem with Frank Turner is still the unneeded inclusion of a full band that hurts his expression more than it benefits it. Until the band is ditched, it is unlikely he will distinguish himself from other acoustically driven rock bands today.


Download: Peggy Sang The Blues, I Am Disappeared, I Still Believe
For the fans of: Ben Marwood, Spring Offensive, imadethismistake, The Treehouse
Listen: Myspace

Release date 06.06.2011
Xtra Mile Recordings / Epitaph

Frank Turner - I Am Disappeared by Epitaph Records

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