Frank Turner – “England Keep My Bones”

Anyone who’s familiar with Winchester’s Frank Turner and his intense touring habits knows that he is never in one place for too long, not even his own home. Frank Turner (and his backing band The Sleeping Souls) has been touring solo for a few years now and manages to create acoustic folk-punk songs that cut the crap and get to the core of life and love.

People that know his music are avid followers, and people that aren’t usually have a different outlook after hearing him. Yes, he’s just that good! Frank Turner’s incredibly popular third album Poetry of the Deed sang songs of life’s little appreciations, constantly being on the road and the lessons learned from seeing the countries of the world. England Keep My Bones is album number four and focuses almost oppositely on Frank’s resounding love for his home and England’s heritage, but at the same time manages to keep that acoustic punk-rock spark.

Album opener Eulogy triumphantly bursts out with a punk attitude after a horn intro and gets the album started on a high with its punk-style lyrics “But on the day I die I’ll say “At least I fucking tried!” and that’s the only eulogy I need.” Peggy Sang the Blues is a song about Frank’s grandmother visiting him in a dream, but also cleverly hides punk style lyrics about playing poker in heaven and giving him sound advice on life around a blues style sound, as the title suggests. The good vibes keep coming hard and fast when I Still Believe from Frank’s latest EP Rock & Roll kicks in with its tribute to different generations of musical influences and how they’ve all helped bring people together, and creates a massive sing-along anthem.

Rivers is another song about the life of a punk-rock troubadour and traces paths across England that Frank has travelled before eventually returning home, and first single I Am Disappeared harks back to his earlier material and sings about dreams of Bob Dylan and spontaneous travelling. English Curse throws a curveball to the album – it’s an entirely acapella song about how William II died in the New Forest after being shot with an arrow by Walter Tyrell in 1100. While it’s a beautifully crafted bit of sung poetry, it also shows Frank Turner indulging his heritage and the history of his home on England Keep My Bones.

If I Ever Stray lightens the tone again with its joyful country styling and makes a promise to his friends that “If I ever stray from the path I follow, take me down to the English channel, throw me in where the water is shallow and then drag me back to shore” showing that even though Frank travels, he never forgets who his friends are. Wessex Boy carries on the theme of his friends and home through Frank singing about Winchester and all his fond memories of the places he went, and even mentions the Railway Inn where he played his earlier shows and occasionally still does whenever he’s back for long enough. Wessex Boy also manages to paint a clear picture of Frank Turner’s roots and what inspired him to start making music, and it’s clear from the passion he sings this song with how important his roots are to him.

Nights Become Days’ melody breaks up the pace of the album nicely before Redemption’s piano led symphony creeps through and builds into something entirely different and heavier. Album closer Glory Hallelujah might seem anti-religious, proclaiming “There never was no God”, but looking deeper I believe the message is that people should live to appreciate everything they have while they have it before they die. It’s not so much anti-religious as it is life appreciating.

The extra three songs available on the deluxe version of England Keep My Bones include Song for Eva Mae which is a melodic acoustic song about his Goddaughter, Wanderlust which is more of a country style song and Balthazar, Impresario which reminds me of Journey of the Magi from Poetry of the Deed. Though they don’t really add to or fit in with the theme of England Keep My Bones much, which is probably why they’re extras on the deluxe version, but any fans of Frank’s solo acoustic numbers will like these little extras a lot.

While it may not have the same immediate life-affirming attitude that made Poetry of the Deed so popular, England Keep My Bones adds a lot to Frank Turner’s arsenal and reaffirms your faith in England, reminding people of the pride we should have in the history and tradition of our country. Another great album from one of the last honest musicians in the world.

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Frank Turner – “Poetry Of The Deed”

Winchester local Frank Turner has been out making quite a name for himself in the last few years. Previously a member of the hardcore rock band Million Dead, he now writes and records his own unique blend of acoustic/country/folk/punk-rock songs which are both bitter-sweet and truly empowering at the same time. Now whilst that might seem like a lot of genres rolled into one, Frank Turner pulls all of it off amazingly well, and after a previous two albums worth of material he has now released Poetry Of The Deed, which cements his status as a unique artist along with the rest of his band.

I’ll openly admit that my buying this album has been a long time coming, but now that I own it, I truly don’t regret getting it! Poetry Of The Deed, as an album, is an eclectic mix of emotions as far as the songs and lyrics take you. The joyful, piano led opener Live Fast Die Old is both an uplifting punk-rock song about living your life to the fullest, but also doing for so long that you never stop enjoying it. The line “You’d rather burn out than fade away? Well why not both, I plan to stay” sums up the spirit of the song, which in turn is closely followed by Try This At Home, another folk-punk mix that encourages all listeners to “turn off your stereo, pick up that pen and paper, you could do much better than a half-arsed skinny English country singer”. For all the talent and charisma he has, Frank Turner doesn’t lose his sense of humor or irony throughout Poetry Of The Deed, and that just makes the songs all the more interesting. For instance, Dan’s Song is just a song about him and his friend Dan taking some beers to a park to drink, and inviting people to join them. A simple, humorous little song, but the way that it’s sung gives it more meaning than what you would otherwise realize.

The title song Poetry Of The Deed itself is one of the more rock-led songs, Tuner’s punky vocals giving power and lift to the chorus lines, and all the interestingly phrased lyrics that paint a picture of not being held back in wanting to live dreams, such as the line “let’s grab life by the throat and live it to pieces”. The Fastest Way Back Home is the closest thing on Poetry of The Deed to a love ballad, but it’s still one that rock with its piano led folksiness. Right after this, though, is Sons Of Liberty which is a total turn as a political punk song which drips not only with Irish folk balladry (especially with the violin accompaniment at the end) but also with malice and scorn for the government with the lines “Stand up sons of liberty, and fight for what you own. Stand up sons of liberty and fight, fight for your homes”.

Recent single The Road is a beautiful little country-style song about the people Frank Turner meets and the stories he can tell from being on tour and seeing the places he’s seen, which then gives way to a couple of darker-tinted songs such as Richard Divine which could easily deceive you as a less dark song if you were less attentive to the lyric content about suicide. However dark these may be, there’s Sunday Nights to lighten the mood with its slow, melodic verses.

Closing off Poetry Of The Deed is Journey Of The Magi, an almost mournful song that speaks of stories of Moses and Greek Gods that only have stories to tell because they didn’t take the easier road – a message that speaks true not only of Frank Turner himself, but for anyone who cares to listen enough to the messages thread throughout these songs, ending with the line ” So saddle your horse and shoulder your load, burst at the seams, be what you dream, and take to the road.”

There is an eclectic mix of messages and songs on Poetry Of The Deed, ranging from the uplifting and empowering to the dark and political. Frank Turner has done a fantastic job threading ideals and messages throughout these songs, and the music that he’s made to go with them is just as great. Poetry Of The Deed is definitely an ideal listen for anyone who enjoys City And Colour but needs a bit more energy to the acoustics, or anyone that enjoys punk-rock songs but feels they may need a break from all the angst! Definitely one to give a listen to, at the very least!