Frank Turner | England Keep My Bones (Epitaph)

 The music itself is grand and fitting, an excellent blend of folksy acoustic guitar-driven tracks to harder-rocking, punk-like tracks.

 

 

I’m gonna be honest with you. I really suck at writing these types of things. I normally fall back onto my normal standards of “Damn, that’s awesome,” or other more colorful phrases typically involving four-letter words and in combinations most people haven’t thought of. Also, until this year, I’ve never really heard of Frank Turner. I caught his name in the way I discover a lot of my new music: English music sites like NME. England Keep My Bones received a very positive review there as well as other places, so I checked it out. Damn, good call (And yes I have since absorbed his wonderful back catalog.)

Turner’s songs are heartfelt, sincere, and true. He doesn’t mince his words, meaning you don’t have to sit and wonder just what the hell he’s singing about. Most of the songs on England revolve around life, love, regret, and the existence of us all, but from the point of view of an Englishman, with the most important place on earth being England. Not Britain, not the Continent, sure as hell not the United States, but England. Besides having fantastic lyrics, the music itself is grand and fitting. It’s an excellent blend of folksy acoustic guitar-driven tracks to harder-rocking, punk-like tracks.
The album kicks off with a short but oh, so true narrative lamenting on that we all are never going to be famous, hugely successful, or have some fantastical career, but be happy with yourself for trying your best. “Peggy Sings the Blues” is a tribute to his grandmother as her spirit visits him, telling him to keep going. “I Still Believe” is Turner’s love song to rock ’n’ roll and his musical heroes and how rock will save us all. It also gives me one of my favorite lines in many years: “I still believe, in the sound that has the power to raise a temple and tear it down/ I still believe, in the need for guitars and drums and desperate poetry.” Dammit, why can’t I write lyrics like that?
“Rivers” is an acoustic-driven ballad that really epitomizes his love of home (England) and how majestic it is to him. “I Am Disappeared” is a slow-burning song that is so filled with imagery that you are swimming. “English Curse” is an old-world ballad about William the Conquer, which is actually a brilliant and perfect intro “One Foot Before the Other.” You get sucked in with a great opening acoustic chord progression…then the band unleashes the fury. It’s a song a man living on in a most interesting way. The back half of the album, starting with “One Foot,” is one continuous high point. “If I Ever Stray” is my favorite track on the album and it’s impossible to not sing along with it. “I’m sure most of us have felt the need to have our friends/ Throw me in where the water is shallow/ Then drag me on back to shore.” “Wessex Boy” is his homage to his home. “Nights Become Days” and “Redemption” are slower tracks about regret that make the perfect setup for the album closer, “Glory Hallelujah.” “Glory” is so joyous in its godlessness.
Having gone back and listened to Turner’s back catalog, I can easily say this is so far the high (HIGH) point to his four-album career. England Keep My Bones will bring you such joy and make you smile and sing along. Unless something powerful comes along, this will be my album of the year. Standout tracks are “I Am Disappeared,” “One Foot, If I Stray,” and “Glory Hallelujah.” I would dearly love to see Turner live. In reading up on him, apparently his shows are outstanding. Oh, I see he was here in the Lou in 2010, opening for Flogging Molly. Fuck. | Mike Koehler

 

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