Sunday, June 26, 2011

England Keep My Bones - Frank Turner (Review)

I discovered Frank Turner about a year and a half ago. He was supporting Social Distortion at the show I attended. I bought two of his albums (Love Ire & Song and Poetry of The Deed). I loved them, but one thing I noticed is that one of the coolest songs he played that night ("I Still Believe") was not on either of them. So my first instinct was to check the tracklist of the one album I didn't buy there. I was dissapointed to find out it wasn't on their either. I went a few months while forgetting about it, but then I heard news of him releasing a new record. This got me extremely excited because I figured this song would be on it. Come to find out, it was, plus many many more very great songs.

"Eulogy" doesn't exactly have the role of "just another song" on the album. To me, it is taking the role of an epic introduction to a fairly epic album. It starts with a nice brass section for the first half. And then it breaks into Turner and his acoustic. Soon after that comes the whole band plunging in to the song. It has a nice build to it and it does a nice job catching the heart of the rest of the album.

After that is "Peggy Sang The Blues". Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this song is about his grandma. It sings about Turner's dreams about his grandmother, Peggy. This is the second single off of England Keep My Bones (following "I Still Believe"), and although there are better choices for singles, this was still a reasonable choice for a single. I could picture this song getting some airplay.

Next comes "I Still Believe". This is the first song I heard from England Keep My Bones. And it has been my one of my favorite Frank Turner songs since I first heard it. It is an anthem of how music can dramaticly change one's life. With lines like "Who would've thought, that after all. Something as simple as rock n' roll could save us all", it makes it pretty clear what the message of the song is. The music continues the folk-punk sound of his early records. This is a really meaningfully song and it ages very well.

"Rivers" is the least memorable song on the record. I've went through the album many times, and this is the one that just doesn't stick like the others. It is not a bad song, and I would not skip it when listening to the album in the future, it just doesn't have the charm of the other songs. I also don't quite get what the song is about. I can not get behind the meaning of this song. Although it is not a bad song, I could live without it.

And then we have "I Am Disappeared". Unlike the last song, this song is totally memorable. This is actually the first song I relistened to after my first listen of the album. It is very up-beat throughout the whole song. The piano in the chorus is very magical and adds something very special. The second half of the track is a breakdown. The breakdown is build that reaches massive heights. I heard in a live performance that this song is about a dream Turner had about driving a car around with Bob Dylan. While that is cool and all, it is too specific to the individual. I like to look at it as if it is about regrets. I believe he is saying "be young while you can, because in the future, you will be sorry". That is my view on this song.

The next song is very unique. It is called "English Curse". It consists of Frank singing by himself without any instruments at all. It is just him singing alone for two whole minutes. I personally loved this song. It has so much character. The melody of this song is very dark and sinister. He sings about english history, which I do not know much about. This song is proof of how good of a story teller Frank Turner is. He kept my attention throughout the whole song without the help of any instruments. This song also displays how much power his voice has. It is really noticeable in this song.

Continuing the darkness of the last song is "One Foot Before The Other". This is the heaviest song off of the album. It is most likely the heaviest Frank Turner song overall. It is very good, though. Although it does not sound like a Frank Turner song, it still keeps you listening, and it is always fun to listen to this song. "One Foot Before The Other" explains Turner's desire to be remembered and to be continued through others. These lyrics add to the darkness of this song's music.

After that is "If Ever I Stray". This song would have been a better choice to release as a single than "Peggy Sang The Blues". This song is huge! I could imagin hearing this on the radio. I could also imagin this catching a casual listeners attention. About half way through the song, they introduce a brass section which makes the song even bigger. The line in the chorus which reads "As long as I've got me a place to sleep, clothes on my back and some food to eat. I can't ask for anything more" sums up this song perfectly.

"Wessex Boy" is another radio friendly track. This would have also been a better choice for a single than "Peggy Sang The Blues". This is a very catchy track. It seems to have a stripped down feel, while at the same time, it is a big rock song. It is about never forgetting about where you came from and it is also about memories. It gives you a sense of nostalgia through out the entire song. This song also feels like it is the start of the end of the album. It maintains that position very well. You can feel the album coming to a gradual ending.

"Nights Become Days" is a very nice song. This captures the "stripped down to the basics" feel more than the last one. It mostly consists of just Frank and his guitar. Later, it adds more abstract instruments, including a very magical piano riff. It gives it a very mysterious vibe to it. From how I look at it, this song is about drug addiction. It is hard to tell though. He tells this story in a very poetic way. " Nights Become Days" continues the slow ending of the album.

The next track is "Redemption" In this song, Turner sings about regret, which seems to be a reoccuring theme of the album. It deserves more than one listen. At first I couldn't really get into the song, but after my 2nd or 3rd listen of the album, I really understood the song. The bridge of the song continues the hard rock feel that "One Foot Before The Other" consisted of. The guitar in this song is very emotional, and it helps the song an enormous amount.

The closure for England Keep My Bones is "Glory Hallelujah". "Glory Hallelujah" starts off with just, what sounds like, a church organ. Which is probably intended considering the song is about atheism. The lyrics are about not basing your life on religion. This song is reminiscent of some of Social Distortion's music. The melody, and overall vibe of the song sounds a lot like something off of Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes. Overall, I am not so sure I like this song as the closure. It is a good song, but it doesn't seem signifigant to the album enough to be the closure.

This album is good in almost every way. Frank Turner added some new elements to his music, while keeping his folk-punk charm. They included a lot more piano than in the previous albums, and it worked very well. The piano is "vital to the whole damn operation" (Yes, pun intended). One thing I noticed about the lyrics is that Turner seemed to add a lot of England references. That is neither a good or bad thing for me because I am not familiar with English history. This album seems like less of a band effort than his last album, Poetry of the Deed. It seems as if this is mainly focused on Turner's poetry and guitar. That is a good thing. Frank Turner is a growing poet, and on each album, he shows a massive amount of progression. I am always excited to hear new Frank Turner music.

Highlights : Eulogy, I Still Believe, I Am Disappeared, English Curse

Music : 9 (Frank Turner's music is always great)
Lyrics : 9 (More matured than anything he has done before)
Artwork : 7 (Pretty nice, nothing special)

Overall : 8.5 (As a whole, it is very constant. Not a bad song on it)

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