Frank Turner - The Second Three Years
Folk punk troubadour Frank Turner follows up last year’s well-received England Keep My Bones with this second retrospective collection of b-sides and rarities. Turner may have only come to many people’s attention with that last album but his solo career already spans many years, plus a tour of duty in the now defunct punk outfit, Million Dead. A longstanding adherence to living on the road, playing shows wherever and whenever he could has won him a groundswell of fan support, leading to a date at Wembley Arena this spring.
There have been minor spats in the past when commentators have attempted to present a disconnect between Turner’s current folk everyman shtick and a perceived pampered upbringing that involved been schooled at Eton. This is more distraction than anything else, with what you are being of more import than where you’ve come from. To anyone familiar with his previous releases, these issues fade away on listening to the music. There’s a welcome sense of the genuine in his songs that reveal an artist wishing to convey both music and something beyond platitudes and cliche, the folk styling to his work as much a template as those who choose to work in rap or heavy metal. There are adventurous forays into punkier territory but these are simply welcome diversions. Simply put, we are dealing with an artist confident in their music and what he wants to say. The fact that this feels counter to much of what is part of the contemporary music scene says much more about his peers than it does about Turner.
This isn’t a full studio album and pointedly can be seen to be, in part, a collection of musical curiosities that mark his progress over the last few years. The imp of the perverse leads Turner into the potentially dubious territory of cover versions. Again, the sense of the genuine quickly comes to the fore with honest, impassioned interpretations of songs from a disparate range of artists including The Foundations’ 'Build Me Up Buttercup', Springsteen’s 'Thunder Road', Nirvana’s 'On a Plain' and, take a deep breath, Take That’s 'The Greatest Day'. It’s only with album closer, Wham’s 'Last Christmas' does Turner perhaps stretch to a cover too far.
If, in releasing this collection, this allows Turner to clear out the cupboards and continue of his own, very personal musical course, then we can only await his next album with great expectations.