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Frank Turner is one of those rarities in today get famous quick x-factor generation, a singer songwriter who has got the success he has enjoyed through sheer hard work and performing live, he may not be a household name but he does have a loyal following and has just appeared on a prime time US chat show so maybe breaking America may be on the cards in the future.
Love Ire and Song was released in 2008 and is a really great album. Turner style is probably protest folk music with a sprinkling of punk, if you like an edgy natural feel to your music with crystal clear lyrics and a simplicity of style then you will like Frank Turner. The album blends acoustic numbers with more rock inspired electric guitar tracks and compared with his first album there are certainly more instruments being played and also a more polished sound.
His real strength is as a writer and the lyrics in his songs are cleverly crafted and composed, his voice has a gritty quality and a good range to it, these qualities are shown in tracks like To Take You Home and the incredibly poignant Long Live the Queen which has nothing to do with the monarchy but instead focuses on a the death of a friend.
1 I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
2 Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
5 Better Half
6 Love Ire And Song
7 Imperfect Tense
8 To Take You Home
9 Long Live The Queen
10 Love Worth Keeping
11 St Christopher Is Coming Home
12 Jet Lag
There is a more mature feel to this album, there are still the protest songs but they are tempered by Turner recognising that as you get older for some people other issues arise and there are plenty of songs reflecting on his love life and past loves. Imperfect Tense has a lively up beat feel to it that makes it one of my favourites on the album.
This is a great album that I still listen to on a regular basis and one that I never get tired of hearing. Certainly he is a singer worth checking out as this is a great album.
Having started to make a name for himself with his 2007 debut album Sleep Is For The Week, Frank Turner returned in 2008 with his second album. It was an album that could have gone down two routes, either reinforce the sound the former Million Dead singer had already created or try something different. It's with great relieve that Turner decided to stick with the punk folk sound he had already started to pioneer in this country and the end result is this superb album Love, Ire and Song.
It would have been easy for Turner to return to his purely punk rock routes but with this album he started to bring his new blend of punk and folk more into the mainstream. It's clear from the start of the album that this was the album that Turner intended to make a name for himself with. There are a number of obvious singles and while his debut album was very good this one seems to take his musical and vocal abilities to the next stage.
While it wasn't perhaps the instant hit that Turner had been hoping for it is an album that really grew his fan base in great numbers. The album itself was recorded in a studio in Winchester where Turner and his guitarist Ben Lloyd split the production responsibilities between themselves. This followed the success that the pair had achieved with Turner's first album and once again the results are extraordinary. Having been so involved in the process from start to finish you get the feeling from the quality of the tracks that Turner strived to make each of the tracks as perfect as they could possibly be.
There is a real mixture of acoustic and electric guitars this time round and it advances and evolves the sound that Turner is trying to achieve. The acoustic guitar sounds much better on this album and compliments his vocals perfectly. This time round there is the addition of a drum backing on a number of tracks that keeps time perfectly and adds another dimension to the musical content of the album. Rather than completely reinvent his sound Turner has taken the ideas and method behind his debut album and refined it slightly and using the experience he gained from that first record to add to this one and make it even better.
Nowhere is that perhaps more evident than in the quality of the lyrics. He does write some very complicated tracks and when you actually listen to them word by word there are some very beautiful tracks on this album such as "Better Half". It's really Turner's vocals that give him the perfect combination between the punk and folk genres. While he creates the punk feel to the tracks through the use of drums and electric guitars it's through his vocals that he blends the two genre's particularly well. Coupled with his acoustic guitar Turner displays his ability as a singer/song writer very well on this album.
Once again Turner has drawn on incidents within his life to draw as influence for all of the tracks on the album. This gives the whole album a real sense of feeling and you can hear the personal elements in Turner's vocals which work particularly well. After the first album I wasn't sure how he could improve on it, but this album raises the bar once again. There are the more upbeat and faster tracks like "Imperfect Tense" and the slower heartfelt tracks such as the album's title track "Love, Ire & Song" which Turner describes as the three things everybody needs for contented life.
The album is packed full for great tracks, with the majority of them being songs I loved instantly. There are a couple of tracks that take a little longer to really get into your head but I quite often find myself singing along to the majority of the tracks on this album. It's hard to pick out a favourite track from the whole album but if I was forced to there is one in particular, "Long Live The Queen". The track was released by Turner as a single in support of Breast Cancer Campaign after one of his friends died due to the disease. The track is a beautiful and poignant song that not only keeps alive the memory of a friend of his but really displays the emotional and maturity of his ability to write songs.
Amazon Marketplace: £6.73
This is another great offering from Mr turner himself, the next album after Sleep is for the Weak. This album is more 'love songy' compared to sleep is for the weak, it still holds some classics though such as Photosynthesis and Long live the queen. Long live the queen is a particularly personal track from frank as it is about a friend he had who passed away due to cancer. It is a very sad song and Frank portrays this very honestly, it's also an uplifting song though as it carries a very good message. Reasons not to be an idiot sounds like it should have been on sleep is for the weak, a brilliant song. Track 11 St Christopher is coming home is a brilliantly uplifting track about friendship and commeradery! It brings back the feeling of old school England! This album is a must buy but I think sleep is for the weak is better
I was recommended listening to Frank Turner by a friend, and first heard his song "Long Live The Queen". As soon as I heard it, I was drawn to it by his lyrics that related to real life, and his catchy guitar riffs.
The album "Love Ire And Song" features a variety of different types of music. From ballad type songs such as "I Knew Prufock Before He Got Famous", to slow mellow songs such as "Better Half", there is something for everyone on this album. All of his songs are deeply personal, however they all have the power of seeming meaningful to the listener.
If your CD collection features folk-rock influenced bands, then you'll definetily enjoy listening to this album. If that doesn't sound like your particular cup of tea, then I can guarantee that his lyrics will send shivers down your spine. I would definetily recommend this album, or any of Frank Turners albums as a matter of fact, to anybody.
Having heard Frank Turner's "The First Three Years", an album which reflected on his first few years work as a solo artist after leaving Million Dead, there was no way I couldn't listen to more of his music. After all, the genre he works in, mainly folk based but with frequent rock twists, was one I enjoy listening to and my first experience with his work proved that he was very adept within that field.
Compilations like that can be a bit patchy due to their nature, so it seemed only fair I judge him not only on that, but also on his studio work. Fortunately, the version of "The First Three Years" I picked up also came packaged with his second studio album, "Love, Ire & Song", so I didn't have to go too far to get a taste of Turner's studio work.
There's a very John Otway feel to the title of "I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous" and the style of the song is very similar; story telling lyrics with a folk feel to the music and some amusement to be found in the lyrics if you listen closely enough. This is a mid-tempo folk song, although it does get a more rock feel as the lyrics and the mood get a little angrier further in. The lyrics verge between amusing and frustrated, although the final lines "The only thing that's left to do / Is get another round in at the bar" is certainly one of the best ideas to close a song with I ever remember hearing.
Following a great closing line to the previous song, "Reasons Not To Be An Idiot" is one of the finer song titles you'll come across. This is a much more rock-influenced song, with the guitar line sounding very much like something from Ash or Feeder and it's probably as mainstream as Frank Turner has ever come. It's an up-tempo rock song with occasional folk touches and as a rock fan, this is certainly a favourite of mine, on this album at least.
The folk opening to "Photosynthesis" reminds me a little of his track "Heartless Bastard Motherfucker", which is a great song and this one comes very close. It's an up-tempo, very upbeat folk track with a slight rock influence and a very country and western sounding violin solo later in the song. The lyrics do take the occasional down beat turn, but the music stays the same as a decent counter point to it and it's sure to get your foot tapping because of the beat and tempo.
The acoustic guitar intro to "Substitute" reminds me a little of Tenacious D's "Tribute", speeded up a little. That's not the only common ground, as some of the lyrics here are quite amusing, with the lines "If music was the food of love / Then I'd be a fat romantic slob" always raising a smile for me. This is a largely upbeat and up-tempo folk influenced song. Once again, though, Turner shows his speciality of matching down beat lyrics with a jaunty musical accompaniment and the two work very well together. Indeed, the main let down to this song is that it's very short, at well under 3 minutes and I'd be quite happy if it went on a lot longer than it does.
"Better Half" slows the tempo down a lot, for what is essentially a downbeat ballad. It's mostly piano led instead of the guitar led songs we've had previously and lacks some of the folk touches that we've become used to from Frank Turner, generally as well as on this album. However, that works very well, as the lyrics are sung with enough emotion and yearning that comes across better with the simple music and when it becomes more of a rock song later on, I do feel that some of the lyrical content becomes a little buried under the music.
The title track largely sums up the feeling of folk music as the music of protest. "Love, Ire & Song" tells the story of what happens when the protestors of the past have grown up and moved on. It borrows some of the attitude of his earlier song "Thatcher Fucked the Kids", although it's turned more inwards than outwards. It's a folk-based song musically, although the lyrics borrow some of the anger from Turner's punk roots. The combination gets the message across wonderfully. It's one worth listening to carefully and musical backing doesn't get in the way of the message here like it did occasionally on the previous track.
The intro to "Imperfect Tense" has a folk rock feel that reminds me of a Mundy song, although annoyingly I can't remember the title. Much like "Reasons Not to be an Idiot" earlier in the album, it's a quite mainstream indie-rock song, with the same up-tempo and upbeat feel to it. Also like that song, it appeals to the rock fan that I am and is one of my favourites.
"To Take You Home" is the most obviously folk influenced song here. It tells the story of him meeting someone and it's also the most upbeat song lyrically that he's done. It's a beautifully told story, but it's quite weak musically, especially given the two songs it comes between and it suffers from immediate comparisons. It's a decent enough track, but it's a bit mid-tempo and folk influenced and doesn't really go anywhere, as the point seems to be to tell the story rather than focus on the music and you can see where the focus has shifted a little.
One of the reasons that "To Take You Home" seems so weak is that it's immediately followed by what I think it the best Frank Turner song I've heard. "Long Live the Queen" is another beautiful piece of storytelling, this time about a friend on the verge of death. Musically, it's a largely fairly upbeat, mid tempo folk orientated song, although the last verse and chorus slow things down and ramp up the emotion for a lovely end to a sad song. Whilst the song may be nothing particularly special musically, it's such a heart-wrenching story that it begs to be listened to again, and I always do.
"A Love Worth Keeping" seems like a natural pairing with "To Take You Home", although it's a much better song. It's a mid-tempo folk song, but it's largely played with an electric guitar rather than the acoustic and there's an almost military sounding drumbeat behind it that helps the song along. The music does tend to overshadow the lyrics here, but as it's a decent folk-rock song that reminds me of some old Simple Minds tracks, that's not a bad thing at all.
"St Christopher is Coming Home" starts with a very jaunty guitar intro that immediately gives the song a folk feel. The lyrics aren't quite as upbeat or as up-tempo, but this is a song driven along by the music and on that ground, it's a wonderfully jaunty folk song that will get your foot tapping very early on in the song and keep it that way.
After several failed attempts to record the rock version of "Jet Lag" that appeared on "The First Three Years", the album version became a piano led track. And what a track it is, reminding me very much of Mundy's "Gin & Tonic Sky" in both music and in attitude. It's a lovely folk ballad with a very downbeat feel to it and a beautifully emotional lyric that proves to be the perfect end to an album.
Apart from a couple of slightly weaker moments, this is another great album from Frank Turner. If you're a fan of folk-rock influenced acts like Mundy, you'll find a lot to enjoy in here. Those who prefer their rock a little more mainstream may find him a little too folk influenced, but if you want to broaden your horizons in that direction, then there is no better place to start. Even if the music isn't to your taste, the story telling in some of the lyrics is impressive and quite often highly amusing.
The album can be had from eBay for as little as £3.00 on its own, or packaged together with "The First Three Years" from £2.99. On Amazon and Play, the single album is available from £6.98 and the double album from £8.95, although they can be downloaded together from Amazon for £6.99. Whilst I would happily pay the money for this album alone, as it's 46 minutes of very decent folk-rock, "The First Three Years" is another impressive album, so it's definitely worth getting both, given that the prices aren't significantly different for buying that way.
So, as a Frank Turner fan from his previous album, come 2008 I greatly awaited his second, and most recent release - 'Love, Ire and Song'. I had heard a couple of the tracks, such as 'Photosynthesis' when I saw him live for the second time, at the Park in Peterborough late 2007, and had great expectations, which weren't to be let down. In a run up for the album release, he asked for loads of people to stick stickers around which said "Frank Turner is coming back, Look Busy" which since I was in London around that time, I put a few around on the underground, and one neatly placed on Marble Arch. In return for this Frank sent round a pre-album freebie, which contained a couple of demos, and a cover of 'You are my Sunshine' which had featured on a split vinyl he did in 2007.
So, March came, and I rushed to HMV and hunted it out, Frank was strangely placed in the Metal section, so it took a minute for me to find him. There it sat, not in a normal case, its one of those cardboard ones that fold open, this is something I don't really like, since I have the tendency to break cases and bits, so like to be able to just change the sleeves over, something you cant do it you rip one of these in half.
I didn't have a CD player on me, so had to wait until I got home that night to first listen to it, but decided to read the lyrics which were included on the bus home, trying to imagine how the songs might sound, I couldn't. But the lyrics looked great, and was eager to get home.
I knew Prufrock before he got Famous
Let's begin at the beginning, the first track kicks in with vocals and a casual strum of the guitar, and gradually builds momentum as the backing band kick in, the song is about the music business, and how some people don't make it, so give up, with the sidelines of a song about life, the lyrics are very good, and the song flows extremely well, but not as catchy as some of the later songs.
Reasons not to be an Idiot
This song managed to receive a great amount of Radio One airtime, so much so that some people knew the words, even if they didn't know it was Frank. It's a great folk-rock song, and is quite jovial. Lyrically well written, especially some of the verses, the one which goes:
He's not as clever as he likes to think
He's just ambitious with his arguing
He's crap at dancing, yeah and he can't hold his drink
Deep down he's just like everybody else
Is probably my favourite, since its one I spose describes me... albeit I am rather less big-headed that I used to be, and rather than not being able to hold my drink its just that I drink inordinate quantities, but nonetheless..
The first single from the album, which has a funny little music video with a load of primary school kids in. The song itself is really catchy, the music has a toe-tapping rhythm to it, and the chorus sticks on your mind. The lyrics are about life, and about making the most of it, living it to the full. It was the first song I heard from the album - seeing Frank perform it, and when I saw him live last time it was like an anthem, with everyone singing along.
Just a guitar led song, which musically sounds a bit like Johnny Cash's version of 'Solitary Man', to begin with at least. It is a song which would have fitted in quite well on the last album, and is about Frank's search for love, the lyrics are very well written, and it's a great ballad, making a couple of references to famous lines about love: "love is all you need" from the Beatles song, and "if music be the food of love", from Twelfth Night, by Shakespeare.
A slower paced song that the previous, again about love and finding the person who's perfect for him, again lyrically it is good, albeit not the strongest on the album, it's a simple song unlike a couple which impart advice, or give you something to relate to.
Love, Ire & Song
The title track from the album, and one initially I didn't like, but has really grown on me, the music is initially simply guitar led, and sounds like some of the tracks from his previous album, but with more passion in his voice. It follows on a similar theme to "Once we were the Anarchists", about how when younger you believe in more. Toward the end of the song, his band kicks in, and the pace picks up, it becomes a song of rebellion, and not giving in, and as with a couple of Frank's other songs, is about living life.
Leave the morning to the Morning
Pain can be killed
With aspirin tablets and vitamin pills
But memories of hope and glorious defeat
Are a little bit harder to beat
A very indie little number, much more mainstream than other tracks since it is much less folk. It's fast paced, and was my original favourite track. The end verses spills passion from every perfectly written word, and in the end it fits in with the theme of wanting love again. I still think it is one of the best on the album.
To Take you Home
I am struggling to write about this song, while lyrically it is good, a simple ballad type song, telling the story of Frank's life in the first verse and then about a girl he was with, and musically it has a nice feel, a refreshing evening feel. But the song doesn't really strike any particular chords with me, I don't hate it, but I don't love it, its just tolerated, with no particular feelings one way or another.
Long Live the Queen
Released as a download only single to raise money for Breast Cancer awareness, it is about Frank's friend Lexy, who died in September 2007. The lyrics tell the story of Lex dying and the message that she would impart upon them, telling them that they should live on and instead of being so depressed, instead party and remember her how she was. It's a really beautiful song, and musically very good too.
We live to dance another day,
It's just now we have to dance for one more of us,
So stop looking so damn depressed,
And sing with all our hearts,
Long live the Queen
A Love worth Keeping
Musically it has a very laid back feel to it, a sort of calm sea, the lyrics were written for the music, rather than the other way round. It has a smoothness to most of the song, but picks up with a minute to go, gradually becoming slightly heavier, and Frank sounds like he's really missing this person, the passion in his voice which trails of into the music is very strong.
St. Christopher is Coming Home
My favourite track, has a really jolly guitar tune to it. It is all about being away all the time due to Frank's touring, and how he misses all his friends, but is written in a way many can relate to it, since it is more about being away from your friends full stop. Really catchy tune.
When the evening casts it's shadows on the corners of my days
And I am old and I am settled in the place where I will stay
When my wandering meanderings have finally reached their end
Yeah whatever else maybe may my friends remember me
A very slow number, which was originally suppose to be a fast rocky song, but they couldn't get it right, and it ended up becoming a simple piano piece, which adds greatly to the feel of the song, again about Frank being away from home all the time. It is a melancholy song, and has a real sense of atmosphere to it. As Frank said himself: "It's a song about distance and change and it seemed to take the subjects of all the other songs and wrap them up neatly. "
The one thing you find with most artists these days, is that they struggle with album #2, they seem to loose momentum, and the feeling of the album just isn't right, but Frank has got passed that, and in fact made an album I think is much better than his debut. This album holds much more passion than his previous, which is much more representative of him live. The songs hold their meanings, and as an altogether album, gives me the feeling of Summer (weird maybe?). What I mean is, it has a free feeling, doing what you like to make you happy, living life to the full, and getting where you want, which I associate to the feeling of summer.
While there is the odd weak hit, I think that the album is consistent, and features a good range of songs, from fast paced rocky tracks, to the slower more melancholy tunes, and it carries the themes of distance and love throughout, along with making the most of yourself. And that is exactly what Frank wanted:
"Two different themes run through this album, distance and optimism. I've been far away from my loved ones, touring more than ever, but I'm also more confident in my worldview. And angry; definitely more angry."
I strongly recommend this album to pretty much everyone, its not for any specific age, and can be loved by young and old, being something that both me and my mum listen to in the car with her not moaning about. It is an excellent album, and now all I am looking forward to is album number three which is due out at the end of the year.
You can grab a copy of it for £6.99 from play.com.
And there I was thinking what to write my latest helping of review stew on...and having written a review on his first album it would be stupid not to review his latest album. Ipso facto, here it is!!
For those who haven't seen my review on his debut album "Sleep is for the Week", (hint hint!) the man is Frank Turner, former lead singer of punk band Million Dead, and the album is "Love, Ire & Song" - his second solo album, released back in March this year on Xtra Mile Records.
His first helping of folk-rock tracks about lost loves and drunken evenings was a fantastic record. Showing a song-writing side that many people knew he could produce, but to do it consistently through a 13-track album showed great prowess and talent. But could this second helping realistically stand up, or be just another "difficult second album"?
Well put it this way, the first three tracks; "I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous", "Reasons Not To Be An Idiot" and "Photosynthesis" are fantastic. Far be it from me to be biased or one-sided but that's the bottom line - They are just as good as any track from Sleep is for the Week...so far so good then....
They focus on the same subjects as before, as clearly pointed out in the opening lines to "I Knew Prufrock...":
"We're lovers and we're losers, we're heroes and we're pioneers, and we're beggars and we're choosers. We're skirting around the edges of the ideal demographic. We're almost on the guest list, but we're always stuck in traffic."
But that doesn't mean things become stale or repetitive. The lyrics from Turner sound as fresh and as clever as ever. His ability to write about everyday subjects is as good as anyone around today in the folk rock/indie/alternative genre. Many people 'in the know' say Alex Turner from the Arctic Monkeys is a good as they come. Yes, he's not bad, but his namesake is better...if only they judged success on the words they wrote rather than airtime and record sales!!
However, things don't remain as consistent as the debut album. Without producing one of those laborious reviews that go on track after track about what every line sounds like and can relate to, the songs start to ebb away the further you get into the record. There's an element of melancholy in the second half of the album that was absent in Sleep is for the Week...don't get me wrong, I still find them excellent folk-rock tracks with superb writing skills, but the toe-tapping, sing-along accompaniment is missing. Rather than the drunken night out record this is more for the morning after.
Title track "Love Ire & Song" and "Long Live The Queen" are notable exceptions however. The latter is a true, beautifully tragic anthem about the loss of a friend and celebrating their life. Having seen him live a couple of times now, the atmosphere when it's played is something else. The best thing I can relate it to is his live performance of "The Ballad of Me & My Friends" - the final track from Sleep is for the Week. His army of fans truly know how to chant along to a sing.
For anyone out there that's aware of Frank's work, whether it's as a solo artist or during his time with Million Dead, then I recommend this album straight away. It's slightly more sombre than anything he's done before but it's still a poetically brilliant piece of work. If you're new to him however, don't be detracted from what I've said here...buy his debut album first, learn to love his music, and then buy this one. You won't be disappointed. You'll be hooked like me. Fact.
Frank Turner, simply put, was an angry man once. He was your typical anarcho-punk, at least in spirit. Suddenly, two solo albums down the line and he's become a folk hero of the underground, with a six-string in hand and stories galore.
I think, as a long-time Frank fan, I can safely say that I was shocked by this album. It lacks the grit, it lacks the anger, but what it has in buckets is maturity. I've yet to come across an artist who can go three albums without maturing too fast, but Frank did at the right pace.
He took the folky sounds of his previous works, and added his own angsty, romantic spin to the lyrics and created something. I wouldn't go as far as a masterpiece, because it is nothing spectacular, but I would go as far as branding it a mould breaker. Why? Simply because there are no other punk turned folk artists who can pull off all of their music with such conviction.
Okay, so it starts of weak, very weak in fact, but it works from the ground up. It's shaky on first listen, a bit like building a house on some loose soil, but once you've packed in a firmer foundation, it gets better. That's exactly what happens, he opens with a song that sounds so bland, and then packs in some firmer tunes right after it.
If we skip the reasonably strong middle of the album, with its overly sentimental tunes, we come out at a very rocky outcrop. I'm totally unsure over the ending. I'd love to like the ending, but I just can't, it goes out on a total downer.
I'll cut to the chase, and say that while it's a good album considering Frank is "not of this genre", it's not brilliant. There's a lot of love, a fair bit of song, and very little ire at all. In fact, it's more "Love, Sentimentality, and Song".
Get it if you're into mopey, angsty love songs with acoustic guitars; skip it if you're hoping for another Sleep is for the Week.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 I Knew Prufrock Before He Got Famous
2 Reasons Not To Be An Idiot
5 Better Half
6 Love Ire And Song
7 Imperfect Tense
8 To Take You Home
9 Long Live The Queen
10 Love Worth Keeping
11 St Christopher Is Coming Home
12 Jet Lag