Review: Frank Turner, England Keep My Bones

This album has been out a little while now, but I’ve been busy. So here is my review of Frank Turner’s latest offering, ‘England Keep My Bones’.

This will surely be the album that launches him irrevocably into the stratosphere of radio-play and fame after the success of ‘Poetry Of The Deed’. This may all spell doom for the music he will be able to produce from now on, which will be a shame if it does happen.

But after the short ‘Eulogy’ song the album really does burst into a rather upbeat pace with ‘Peggy Sang The Blues’ (a song about his late grandmother) and ‘I Still Believe’, a really jaunty little number with a bombastic shout-along chorus. The rest of the album undulates between slower folk-ish numbers like ‘Rivers’ and out-and-out new wave style punk songs like ‘One Foot Before The Other’, which owes a lot to New Model Army and has a really strong, aggressive narrative from a man who is clearly considering his own mortality.

‘English Curse’ is a traditional English folk song performed a capella. This breaks up the album at the halfway point and is a nice touch as there aren’t enough artists in the limelight who could pull this off. It fits with the English feel of this album, which is the sound of an album he wanted to make and has clearly succeeded. The songs on this album really do evoke a sense of Englishness and national identity, though it also seems that Turner is considering his legacy as a number of  the tracks centre around loss and what will happen to him after he dies.

‘England Keep My Bones’ is much closer to his first two albums which were largely solo recordings. There are more tracks where it is just Turner singing and playing guitar, perhaps with some subtle backing with strings as opposed to having a full band on every song, which somewhat watered down ‘Poetry Of The Deed’.

My one gripe about the album is the closing track (if you don’t have the extended version), ‘Glory Hallelujah’, which is an atheist anthem denouncing the existence of God…or is it? The lyric before each chorus is “There never was no God”. To me it seems a little childish for a man who is so good at writing strong narratives to sing a song like this with such a blatant use of a double negative, but that’s just my opinion; I’m sure there are a large number of people who revel in this type of religious rebellion. Overall though, a very good album which improves on the last. Next stop Wembley arena!

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