Thursday 28 April 2011

I Believe In Frank Turner

Look through any 'musicians you'd like to have a pint with' lists from the last few years, and sitting just below Guy Garvey and Dave Grohl, you'd likely find Frank Turner's name. The ex-Million Dead singer has, over the past few years, stirred many souls with his passionate punk-folk, ending up with an ever-increasing dedicated following. And quite right too - Turner's songwriting is often superb, and many of his songs are at once heartwarmingly simple (see the refrain of "Get up/Get down/And get outside!" in 'Reasons Not To Be An Idiot') but expertly constructed, with an endearing everyman stance. Turner's music is both optimistic about the compassion of the human spirit ("Life is about love, last minutes and lost evenings/About fire in our bellies and about furtive little feelings") and often politically critical, leading to the inevitable tag of 'this generation's Billy Bragg'. Not that he seems interested in labels - the most appealing part of Turner's music is the straightforward honesty of it. There are no catches, nothing of a 'scene', nothing artificial, just great, unpretentious songwriting.

That said, personally I feel that he's yet to release a full knock-out album. Between debut Sleep Is For The Week, follow-up Love, Ire & Song and 2009's Poetry Of The Deed, there's more than enough stand-out material to create a storming extended 'Best Of'-style playlist, but you'd be hard-pressed to say that he's made a truly essential full album yet. However, that could all change with new album England Keep My Bones on the basis of new single 'Peggy Sang The Blues'.

I was initially wary but grew to like 'I Still Believe' from last year's Rock & Roll EP, a track which is set to feature on the album, mainly on the strength of an amazing harmonica solo and the boundless energy of the full live band. 'Peggy Sang The Blues' is in a similar vein to that tune, but is much more instantly gratifying, with a wonderful walking bassline, incredibly catchy chorus and an unrelenting, infectious optimism. It isn't the most touching or personal of Frank's tunes, but it's certainly one of the sunniest. In particular, from 2.15 mins in, it's truly an absolute joy to listen to, with uplifting gospel choirs thrown into the mix, the pianist letting loose and a finger-tapping guitar adding a rock'n'roll edge. As ever, Turner's voice is full of conviction - when he sings "better times are coming" against a strummed acoustic, you can tell he means it, and you'll probably start to believe it too. There's not much more I can say about the track to do it justice, so listen to the stream below and repeat: I believe in Frank Turner.

  Frank Turner - Peggy Sang The Blues by Epitaph Records

  Frank Turner - I Still Believe by ZManagement

'Peggy Sang The Blues' is out to download now! Frank Turner's new album England Keep My Bones is released on June 6th - preorder the deluxe edition on Amazon here.

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