Review Summary: Because life is too short to live without poetry
Frank Turner has come a long way since his days fronting England's premier turn of the millennium post-hardcore band Million Dead. His 2007 solo debut Sleep is for the Week
was just a glimpse of things to come. While it occasionally stumbled, Frank's Braggian tales of politics, family and nights spent drinking (and the consequences of) were bursting at the seams with potential. That potential was realized on 2008's Love Ire & Song
. On Love Ire & Song
, Turner fine tuned his charming wit and lyrical depth into a boisterous folk record that brilliantly exclaimed that while the optimistic care free days of youth may be gone and have been replaced the malaise and apathy of knowing that the real world doesn't work exactly how you wish it should, that doesn't mean that the best days of your life have passed you by (if you are willing to put in a little effort that is).
Ever the workaholic, Poetry of the Deed
is Frank Turner's third album in three years. Stylistically, not much has changed from last year's Love Ire & Song
. His instantly likable folk-rock jaunts still retain their infectiously hummable qualities, begging for the stage and the inevitable audience sing-alongs of a live setting. The only major change is the new found presence of Frank's backing band. On his previous works his band was only there to act as a needed supplement to his voice and guitar, but on Poetry of the Deed
they are liberated from their backing position giving songs like “Live Fast Die Old” and the title track a feel reminiscent to the Hold Steady. Even on the Celtic gambol of “Sons of Liberty” and the laid back singer-songwriter soft rock of “The Fastest Way Back Home” Frank's band propels the songs to new heights.
Following in the tradition of everything else he's done, Frank Turner's lyrics on Poetry of the Deed
are top notch. “Dan's Song” is an ode to friendship that beams with Turner's endearing existential questioning of the merits of adulthood. “Well work weeks make us weary/School's a distant memory/And it's easy to ask questions of ourselves/ Like where it is we're going?”, his easily relateable prose is almost comforting. Frank only adds to his charm on the energetic DIY manifesto “Try this At Home” as he proclaims that there's “no such thing as rock stars/ they're just people who play music/ and some of them are just like us/ and some of them are dicks...” before saying that his fans can do better than “some half arsed English country singer.” Given his punk rock pedigree, it's no surprise that the climax of Poetry of the Deed
is the highly politicized “Sons of Liberty”. A rallying call against trading liberty for the illusion of safety, Turner's eloquent yet vitriolic verses explode into a triumphant battle cry.
The only real downside to Poetry of the Deed
lies in its familiarity. All of Turner's releases have followed the same basic make up of a rocking number here, a ballad there, an obligatory political song towards the middle, and then some slower numbers to close out the album. Poetry of the Deed
is no exception. This makes the album a predictable listen to anyone who has heard Love Ire & Song
or Sleep is for the Week
As someone who resides in Los Angeles, I'm not up to date on Frank Turner's prominence in his native England, but I can speak from experience on his rising status in the States. 2009 has been good to Frank stateside. After completing a short headlining run with Look Mexico that saw him performing at Austin's South By Southwest festival earlier this year, he's since signed with Epitaph, opened for the Offspring, and this fall he'll be touring with The Gaslight Anthem. All a far cry from only a year ago, when this reviewer saw him play a matinee show at the Echo in Hollywood to a crowd of no more than 10 people. Now that he finally has some label backing here in the states, it looks like The Poetry of the Deed
should finally be the album that gets the lively Brit the attention he deserves.