Frank Turner- 'England Keep My Bones'
He wanted to do a Springsteen and pen an ode to his homeland. Frank Turner has achieved that and so much more. "England Keep My Bones" is a beautifully painted portrait of this country from the point of view of a chap that has seen quite a lot in his time. This album captures so much feeling yet remains true to the melodic simplicity of English folk song.
Much of the record is like going for a drive and finding a gorgeous little pocket of countryside where you can feel content just filling your lungs with the air that's as fresh and sweet as the landscape you admire. Unless it's near a field of cows or something. It's about roots, it's about remembering what you've come to learn from the experiences and mistakes on your journey through life, it's about making the most of the here and now and taking notice of what's around us. It made me feel like I could write an essay on it. A-Levels in Frank Turner would be pretty cool.
The textures and ideas packed into these twelve songs make it the richest slice of Frank Turner we've ever been served. Not losing any of his rugged edge from his punk rock soul, the opening 'Eulogy' feels like you've been drawn closer to listen to a tale next the fire in an old tavern. Everyone's a bit rowdy and saturated in ale, and the mood is merry. Ole' Frank has grabbed a guitar and leapt onto a table and taken command before sharing the advice lacing the feel-good beat of 'Peggy Sang The Blues'.
There are more sincere moments too. 'Rivers' is a gorgeous track steeped in Celtic warmth both instrumentally and vocally. Musing on England's history which is soaked into every aspect of our landscape, you can't help but be struck by how genuine Turner is in this artistic tribute to the country. I'd like to flag a warning for a bit of an emotional pang that comes from the final verse. It's better than any rousing of 'EN-GER-LUND' to make you feel just a little patriotic. Appreciation for heritage and roots are also glaringly apparent in tracks 'English Curse' and 'Wessex Boy'- the former being so trad-folk it sounds centuries old and the latter being a rocking track that offers a picture of growing up in Britain that most of us could relate to.
There are two particularly outstanding songs on this superb collection. The first is 'I Am Disappeared'. The emotive simplicity of this track is truly exceptional; the pace and touches of piano conjure up the feeling of an aerial view of the country, sweeping through to reach every far corner and to see every face. It's lively and so easy to love. Then there is 'One Foot Before The Other'. It may start with the acoustic folk that dominates the album, but then give it a few bars and it comes along and kicks you in the proverbial balls. It's like Gizmo has just been pushed into the swimming pool. Gang vocals and a gradual layering of noise over a bubbling bass line culminates in a fantastically triumphant chorus that you can envisage would provide an incredible moment in a live set- and the loyal Turner following would without a doubt, go nuts.
It's kind of difficult to do this album justice in a fractured picking apart. It is delivered as one whole article that provides a full and Frank (heh) presentation of ideas and feeling. He is the anti-preacher, tossing aside traditional faith to restore it in rock n' roll as per the jubilant gang cries of 'I Still Believe' and the inverted hymn in 'Glory Hallelujah'. 'England Keep My Bones' consists of intelligent ideas, thought-provoking lyricism and celebration as we 'accept there's an end and we haven't got much time then in the here and now we can try and do things right'. Amen to that. This one is a future classic and a real feel-good record.