REVIEW: Frank Turner – “England Keep My Bones”

Frank Turner / England Keep My Bones / Epitaph

The former singer of Million Dead continues to surprise on England Keep My Bones, his fourth solo record, which blends a very traditional folk sound, the philosophy of a wise European backpacker and the passion of a fresh-faced punk rocker. Less a tour diary than his previous album, this effort is more an unrepentant love letter for Frank Turner’s homeland (and, in that regard, more in the vein of “Penny Lane” than “Strawberry Fields Forever”). “Rivers”, “English Curse” and “If I Ever Stray” are all self referentially British and bound by their very nature to become bar room favourites in the communities Turner sings lovingly about, from their streets and waterways to their ancient folklore.

The United Kingdom has a long tradition of detailing the notable lives that have lived on its soil – which helped Turner’s research for the track “English Curse”. On “One Foot Before the Other” and elsewhere throughout England Keep My Bones, he does an impressive job of documenting his own role on that same island in his own unique place in history. But he’s doing a whole lot more than that. “Glory Hallelujah” is a cunningly penned humanist celebration of living in the now. “Wessex Boy” describes the exuberant joy of returning home after a long absence and, despite not knowing anyone, getting that feeling of being home from the trees, buildings and memories. If you ever expect to find yourself poor and lonely somewhere between Canterbury and Bristol with nothing but an acoustic guitar, learn these songs. You might make some new friends.

Download: “If I Ever Stray”, “Wessex Boy”, “Glory Hallelujah”

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