Music Spotlight: Frank Turner’s “England Keep My Bones”

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I’m not the right person to do music reviews. I’d love to be, but I’m not. I don’t listen to a wide enough range of music to really judge the merits of a given artist. I like what I like, and that’s about all I can point to. With that in mind, I’m going to have a somewhat irregular feature here where I recommend an artist or an album that I find particularly exceptional, and well worth your time to listen. This week, that album is Frank Turner’s England Keep My Bones.

I’ve been listening to this outstanding album for about a month now. Turner’s style on this album is a sort of folk-rock fusion, with many songs leaning both ways, and with a few leaning decidedly in one direction. With the exception of the caustic, charged “One Foor Before The Other”, most of the songs have a very smooth sound that very well complements Frank’s voice and lyrics.

This is one of a few rare albums where I can safely say every single song is stellar. There’s not a dud in the mix here – from the opener, “Eulogy”, a simple anthem with an elegantly stated universal ideal, to the gospel-choir infused finale, “Glory Hallelujah”, a song about humanistic triumph in the absence of religion (a song that, despite featuring the phrase “There is no God” no less than 16 times, manages to be very open and upbeat rather than cynical and critical), Turner surprises you song after song.

As the title suggests, there is a hefty amount of English pride in this album. “Rivers” and “Wessex Boy” in particular are celebrations and reflections on a life lived in England. Despite their inherent patriotism, they are completely and wholly universal. That Turner managed to make me feel nostalgic for a place I’ve never been in my life is a mark of absolutely incredible artistry. This isn’t just typical American Anglophilia, either – the man genuinely manages to make songs about England applicable to people from anywhere. “There’s something about coming back to your hometown again / The place where you grew up and where you found your firmest friends / And though none of them still live here, I’ve got nowhere to go / I’m a Wessex boy, and when I’m here I home.” The lyrics, though sang through memories of his hometown in Wessex, apply just as strongly to any hometown, and likely will make you nostalgic for your own hometown. Equally, “Rivers” conjures an idyllic view of the English countryside, and specifically the rivers that run through it, that – despite never having been there or seen it – I long to visit now, so powerful is the song’s sense of place and nostalgia.

I’ve mentioned around half the songs on the album; the other half are equally stellar, from the rock ballad “I Still Believe” to the touching chronicle of drug addiction “Nights Become Days”. There’s not a song on this album I wouldn’t recommend, and you’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t listen to it. Give it a listen.

England Keep My Bones is available on iTunes, Spotify, and in stores.

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