So here it is, the first 'proper' solo release from ex-Million Dead front man Frank Turner. For those as yet unfamiliar with his solo work it may come as a surprise to be presented with five tracks in a folk/country style but don't let that put you off! Drafting in Oxford based band 'Dive Dive' to provide backing on a couple of the tracks has really paid off, some of the rawness is lost certainly but the added benefits that the band sound brings more than makes up for it. Despite all being broadly folk and/or country the styles of the songs vary quite widely and it's the alternation between solo performance and a full band that holds them together.
Opening track 'Nashville Tennessee' is a strong opener centred around an ascending and descending scale that leads into a catchy chorus. It's hard to know how to categorise the sound as he clearly draws on numerous influences and comes up with something that sounds like lots of people and yet nobody all at the same time!
Technically the songs are fairly simple in arrangement but that merely allows the lyrics to come to the fore. 'Thatcher Fucked the Kids' strays into political territory and as you'd expect Frank doesn't shy away from telling it exactly as he sees it. 'This Town Ain't Big Enough For The One Of Me' captures perfectly the feeling of being stuck in a small town and making the break away. Again it's catchy and the full band sound really makes it work as it builds to a great chorus, although the best line has to be "I still want to be buried here, just like I said, but I'd prefer it if you'd wait until I'm actually dead".
'Casanova Lament' is a departure in style, leaning much more towards a traditional folk ballad and is probably the candidate for radio play, purely because it doesn't feature any swear words! You do get the impression with these songs that Frank wears his heart very much on his sleeve and isn't afraid to open himself up to a degree. Devoid of any backing 'Casanova Lament' comes across as a very personal song and has more than a shade of Nick Drake about it. 'I Really Don't Care What You Did On Your Gap Year' rounds it all up with an amusing and yet sad tale of that feeling you get when you're the last one standing at an all night party.
As a collection of songs I wasn't convinced it worked on first listen but after a few plays it begins to makes sense and the fact that you have to work at it to really get into it makes the end product all the more rewarding.