Review Summary: "Ring that victory bell"4 of 4 thought this review was well written
Frank Turner understands the power of music as well as any artist out today. It would be too obvious to suggest this using only “I Still Believe” as evidence, a song which he claims, “I still believe, in the need for guitars and drums and desperate poetry.” In that song he explains his thoughts on the power of music, but on the rest of the album he demonstrates that power.
Whether it’s the sincerity of his voice that makes it sound like he means every word from the bottom of his heart. Or if it’s in the directness of his lyrics and sing-along style that makes it feel like he’s talking to you rather than above you. Frank understands that music is more than sound. Power comes from the acoustic guitar that fits in with Turner’s voice as easily as a screaming girl would fit in at a Justin Bieber concert. And his backing band only makes it more powerful.
The album title, England Keep My Bones
, is fitting because of the time he takes to pay respect to his homeland. His first attempt at a vocals-only track, “English Curse,” doubles as a history lesson and a threat to anyone trying to take his land. The winding feel of “Rivers” serves as his love song to England. And on “Wessex Boy” he describes the feeling of home always being home.
The rest of the subject matter doesn’t vary greatly from previous albums. He's still singing mostly about life, love and finding happiness, but this feels like his deepest and most sophisticated work to date. In “Peggy Sang The Blues” he uses the memory of his late grandmother to create a typical Frank Turner chorus, but staying just as effective as ever. In “Redemption” he painfully regrets leaving a previous lover, all while questioning the existence of love and the reason for life.
Musically, this is easily his most diverse album. Opening with an effortless transition of horns to acoustic guitar to electric guitar in “Eulogy,” he makes it clear that he’s leaving the forced feel of his disappointing previous album, Poetry Of The Deed
. The rocking and driving percussion placed in “If Ever I Stray” puts the song on another level. But the real treat to this album comes in “One Foot Before The Other.” It’s his heaviest chorus, with all instruments taking turns leading the parts in between to go with some of the most fascinating lyrics I’ve ever heard.
This album is not without minor faults though. “Nights Become Days” halts the flow of the album. “I Am Disappeared” could be shorter. I didn’t think he made the most out of the songs “Rivers” and “Wessex Boy.” And on a personal note, being that I’m not from England, it’s hard to feel connected to songs with so many English references. But these are all rather nit-picky complaints, and I don’t let them distract me from enjoying the album.
But in the end, Frank has never been more direct, more honest, or more powerful than on the closer “Glory Hallelujah.” He uses his power of music to express one of the most controversial thoughts in the world, a thought that many are afraid to say to their friends, let alone sing in front of thousands. “There is no god,” he declares in what could be the anthem for atheists. That phrase is so often thought of as negative, but he sings it in a celebratory and uplifting way. On the surface, it sounds like a slam on religion, but if you look deeper it’s a cry to the world. He’s saying we should be happy that there is no God. We can get rid of all the religious wars. We can get rid of all the ridiculous religious customs. We can get rid of the fear of going to Hell when we die, and all the other bad things that comes with religion. Frank Turner knows music is powerful, but now it’s time to find out if it’s powerful enough to change people’s beliefs.