Review Summary: And now who'd have thought that something as simple as rock 'n' roll would save us all?
I like to think that most of us here on Sputnik Music view music as an integral part of the human experience. Especially how it can embody an ethos in ways that are almost impossible to explain unless experienced through it. Frank Turner understands the salvation that music can bring. “I Still Believe”, the lead off track on his Rock & Roll
EP, proudly exclaims “And now who'd have thought that something as simple as rock 'n' roll would save us all?” It's rapturous. Part nostalgia, part reverence, “I Still Believe” is a modern hymnal for those of us raised under the influence of one of the greatest cultural phenomenons of the last 60 years and whose house of worship lies not in a brick and mortar establishment but in our stereos and concert halls.
On Rock & Roll
, Frank does more than share his own musical gospel, he shares his life. “The Next Round” is achingly gut wrenching. While lines like “I'm not quite thirty but feel like I'm dying” are as melodramatic as they are crushing, the most damning aspect of the song is Frank lamenting “I drink because I want to, because I need to, because I don't know what to do... with my time,” and that “Of all the things that I could become a lonely drunkard isn't one I would have wished when I was young”. When stood up against “I Still Believe” it makes both songs even more convincing as he shows why he needs his salvation. “Rock & Roll Romance” is the closest Frank has come to writing an honest to goodness love song since “To Take You Home” from his 2006 sophomore album, Love Ire & Song
, and true to his character it is bittersweet. Its gentle fingerpicked chords and endearingly hushed vocals recall Mike Kinsella's Owen project as it paints what could have been before showing the portrait of a romance that is torn and hung in a broken frame.
On Frank Turner's last album, 2009's Poetry of the Deed
, there was a crass but poignant line in the song “Try This At Home” stating that “There's no such thing as rock stars, there's just people who play music/ And some of them are just like us and some of them are dicks.” Frank Turner is definitely one of “us”. A man that bleeds. A person with follies and foibles. The kind of person that is just glad to be alive and makes the best of his given circumstance. How do I know this? Well, it's rather obvious if you listen to his music. It's not often that a songwriter comes along that not only gives his listeners a chance to view the inner workings of his soul, but is also able to express his own situation so clearly and in a way that resounds so personally to everyone in earshot. It's a lovely rapport that Frank has built with his fans. For proof of this just see Frank live as a packed house breathes in his words and exhales them back out at the top of their lungs with the same passion and conviction as if they themselves had penned them.