A Great Start To A New Year
We at Room Thirteen have been banging on about this bloke for months and months, but in case you're not aware of who Frank Turner is: one time frontman of Million Dead, he's traded a punk band for a guitar and has spent almost as long as we've been following him touring the UK with the aforementioned guitar, playing in any venue that'll have him.
The hard work is starting to pay off as he spent the latter part of 2006 on the road opening for the Automatic. He begins 2007, that's right, on the road again, but now he has a debut album to promote.
Frank Turner gave us an insight into what we could expect from 'Sleep Is For The Week' back in November, and now it's here! So you can make your own mind up as to whether we've been backing the right horse.
Those who have followed Frank Turner's progress since the end of the Million Dead days will see a few titles on this album that they recognise, however none of the five from the 'Campfire Punk Rock' EP have made it which for me is a surprise. We begin on familiar ground though with 'The Real Damage', a better-known track as it featured on a split single with Reuben. Acoustic, stripped down and staying true to what Frank has been doing on the road up to now, this track is a very strong way to open the album.
As you might expect this album will be to the liking of those who enjoy lyric studying. 'The Real Damage' has that "we've all been there" feel; waking up the morning after the night before and trying to piece the world back together as well as figuring out how the hell you're gonna get home. Later topics such as love and politics are thrown into the melting pot. Turner has a reputation for writing about society as he sees it, 'Once We Were Anarchists', as the name suggests is this albums most politically motivated number, in musical terms it's also one of the most uplifting.
Track 2, 'Vital Signs', is the first single from the album and the first taste on this CD of Frank complete with band, including strings. I love what he has been doing live up to now, the one man and a guitar thing, however I've left every gig wondering how things would work out with a band behind him. The forthcoming tour will give us a chance to find out and this track is sure to be a set highlight for many tours to come as it's one of the best he's written.
The next two tracks see Frank approaching love from different angles. 'Romantic Fatigue' is about writing songs for girls and 'A Decent Cup Of Tea' is the nearest we get to one of those actual love songs. Both will be familiar to the older Turner fan.
'Romantic Fatigue' is pencilled in for a single release, however for me the best choice of single on the whole album comes nearer the end. 'The Ladies Of London Town' is far from the stripped down one man band style we've become used to as it is this album's most powerful rock moment. Jamie Lenman from Reuben features on backing vocals. For a slower single my vote would go to 'My Kingdom For A Horse', a catchy and mellow track that has a real epic build to its climax.
'Sleep Is For The Week' starts at the point where Frank has spent so much of his time - just him and his guitar, and takes us on a journey through country, rock and even bluegrass, 'Back In The Day' is just class. The trip ends back at the point where Frank is at his best - on a stage. 'The Ballad Of Me And My Friends' was recorded at the Barfly in Camden last August and as well as ending the record in the most appropriate way, it includes one of my favourite lines from all thirteen songs, summing the whole thing up:
"We're definitely going to hell, but we'll have the best stories to tell".
This track also gives those who've never been to see him live a sense of the bond between him and the fans who pack small pubs and clubs up and down the land to see him play.
Whether this album does get picked up by those with more influence in the mainstream music world than me remains to be seen, it certainly should be for it has quality running throughout. If you like Neil Young, Billy Bragg, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly or Paolo Nutini then this should be to your taste. You can read what the man himself has to say about his new album
'Sleep Is For The Week' is out on January 15...go on, make him a star!