Frank Turner

Be More Kind

Xtra Mile/Polydor UK/Interscope

Jun 27, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Since Frank Turnerformerly of U.K. hardcore outfit Million Deadlaunched his solo career in the mid-2000s, he has very regularly been described as "folk-punk troubadour." As a one-dimensional description, it serves its purpose well, neatly condensing Turner's love of punk and the fact that, at the start, he was really just a solo act playing acoustic guitar. But that term fails to address the nuances of Turner's skill set as a musician, and his myriad influences, from Iron Maiden to Bruce Springsteen, especially in light of this, his seventh solo studio record.

While his unmistakable (and unmistakably English) voice can't disguise the fact that this is a Frank Turner record, the singer/songwriterwith the help of backing band The Sleeping Soulshas added even more layers of nuance to these 13 songs. The title track, for instance, a defeated lament that casts a self-critical eye over one's treatment of others, incorporates strings, while opener "Don't Worry," "Blackout," and "Common Ground" all contain traces of electronic influences that, until this record, had been absent in Turner's music. It doesn't sound strained, however, and this new style sit and fit well next to the more Turner-typical rollicking, anthemic rock 'n' roll of "Brave Face" and "1933," the electro-punk jitter of "Make America Great Again" forming a kind of middle ground between the two.

If the titles of those last two songs aren't obvious enough, they mark something of a return to the political realm for Turner's songwriting. They're less didactic and revolutionary, however, than they are personal and emotional, relying on Turner's empathy for those suffering at the hands of oppressive forces, whether that's Trump or otherwise. Elsewhere, the melancholy, almost-'80s-esque chug of "There She Is" and the gentle acoustic lament of "The Lifeboat" are album highlights, two songs that that ably demonstrate Turner's ability to connect on an emotional level but also which show his growth and evolution as a musician. (www.frank-turner.com

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