Album Review: Frank Turner – England Keep My Bones

By on Monday, 6th June 2011 at 12:00 pm

Ex-Million Dead frontman Frank Turner is another of those stereotypes, the same ol’, same ol’ story of a lead singer of a hardcore punk band with a small cult following to becoming a folk singer songwriter. We’ve heard it all before eh, there was that guy… err and the ex-lead from… err who did it before him. BORING.

Okay, so I’m lying. Frank Turner is a man, who has in the space of a decade gone from a man who fronted a hardcore outfit, to an idol for many, who can now get away with a capella songs about forests and history. In the time since Million Dead broke up Frank Turner has gone about forging a reputation as, excuse the cliché, “The hardest working man in rock”. He played 24 gigs in 24 hours when filming the video for ‘The Road,’ he’s played over 1000 gigs all over the world, he’s released 2two full length albums. And his third, ‘England Keep My Bones’, is out today.

‘England Keep My Bones’ is Frank returning to England hard. While ‘Poetry Of The Deed’ had songs about the American virtue of liberty and about travelling the world, this record is closer to home. It’s a quintessentially English record from start to finish. Lead single ‘Peggy Sang the Blues’ is a tribute to Turner’s grandmother. (Watch the video here.) The song is Frank at his best: it’s got those trademark hooks that you expect from him, but they aren’t the kind of hooks you’ll be hearing on Radio1 every day. They’re hooks with some real power and vigour in the lyrics. Songs like this are a brilliant representation of just why Frank Turner is so loved among his fans. He writes the kind of songs which make you want to jump up and dance with your best friend with a massive beaming grin on your face.

My personal highlight on this record though is the brilliant ‘One Foot Before The Other,’ Turner shouting down a microphone “I WILL REMAIN!” and how he will “creep through your capillaries”. Hardly the prettiest of images, but Frank is almost going back to his punk roots with this one, but it still remains quintessentially folk.

Before this though is Turner’s a capella number ‘English Curse’ that he debuted live on his recent tours. This isn’t the first time that Turner has delved into the world of a capella singing though; on his last live DVD, he sang old British folk song ‘Barbara Allen’. He obviously liked it enough to go away and do some more research on British folk history and returned with this powerful tale about a curse… an English one no less. Here Turner demonstrates the sheer power of his vocal talent, in a song which while sounding bizarre alone sounds strangely, completely right on this record. Leaked single ‘I Am Disappeared’ appears on the record as well, where Turner dreams of pirate ships, pioneers and Bob Dylan and is another song that builds beautifully to become the kind of song that doesn’t belong in the small academy venues Frank frequents, but in arenas in stadiums.

Surely it’s not far off for the self-made punk rock troubadour, one thing is for sure though, ‘England Keep My Bones’ is a solid record with all the tunes and character to really turn some heads, mine’s been turned for a while though and I think anyone who wasn’t watching before after listening won’t be taking their eyes of this man from Winchester.


‘England Keep My Bones’, the new album by Frank Turner, is out today on Xtra Mile Recordings.

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