Frank Turner – Poetry Of The Deed

Posted on August 25, 2009

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Last year the two singles from Frank Turner’s second solo album, Love, Ire And Song, piqued the interest of radio stations, television channels, magazines and websites across the land. Reasons Not To Be An Idiot gained wide-spread success for its pop sensibilities and lyrics about easily identifiable people and (it even appeared on Hollyoaks and the ASDA in-store playlist, surely a sign that you’ve made it) whilst Long Live The Queen garnered praise for its emotional content, its refusal to be misty-eyed and for the proceeds being delivered entirely to charity. Plays and sessions on Zane Lowe and Jo Wiley’s BBC radio shows soon followed, making Turner’s next offering a somewhat more commercially sought after proposition.

Its little surprise then that independent label Xtra Mile handed the task of producing this potential breakthrough album to acclaimed producer Alex Newport instead of Turner’s regular cohort and live-band guitarist, Ben Lloyd. To be honest the differences between this and the first two albums, production wise, is rather minimal. A more poppy edge is apparent with the prominence given to the keyboard over the electric guitar in sections of a handful of songs, and the decision to record the majority of the album as live with the band really pays off, with the punk rock orientated songs feeling more natural, whilst the reflective ballads become more heartfelt as a result.

Anyone who’s been following Turner’s career so far will be pleased to be met with some familiar themes within the first four tracks. Opener Live Fast, Die Old, provides a tongue in cheek mantra for life, Try This At Home is a typically vitriolic endorsement of the punk-rock ideal of DIY and being true to yourself (“Because there’s no such thing as rock stars/ there’s just people who play music/ and some of them are just like us/ and some of them are dicks”). Next up is Dan’s Song, a pleasingly simple jaunt into the summer spirit of making the most of the weather and the people you love before age gets the better of you, before the title track, a more overtly rock number than anything that has even appeared on either of Mr. Turner’s previous albums, kicks in.

The main bulk of the rest of Poetry Of The Deed finds Frank in a variety of new territories. The main difference is in the lyrics, which are noticeably wordy, taking in references to everything from Shakespeare to Boadicea and it’s a testament to the man that he can pull it off without sounding like a complete dick. As ever though, it’s the little turns of phrase that burrow under the skin, with lines such as “Life is too long to just sing the one song/ so we’ll burn like a beacon and then we’ll be gone” and “Oh my darling you know that everything that I do/ I’m just trying to make me good enough for you” instantly grabbing your attention. Other highlights include the ferocious Celtic political stomp of Sons Of Liberty and the sinisterly jaunty Richard Divine. As is traditional with Turner’s output so far, Poetry ends on a low key note with the mournful allegory, Journey Of The Magi, which whilst not as anthemic as say, The Ballad Of Me And My Friends, provides a suitable closing to this chapter of Turner’s life with an optimistic chorus of “In the end/ the journey’s brought joys which outweigh the pain”

Poetry of the Deed isn’t as powerfully emotional as last year’s Love, Ire And Song, something which is obviously down to personal circumstances at the times of writing, but is a more assured collection of songs, crafted by an artist finding comfort in his own skin and then pushing himself further. As before Turner’s conviction is sure to make him stand out amongst his peers to discerning listeners and it’s hard to see this third album not being another large stride towards much deserved success.

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