Frank Turner - 'England Keep My Bones: 10th Anniversary Edition' Album Review
2. Peggy Sang The Blues
3. I Still Believe
5. I Am Disappeared
6. English Curse
7. One Foot Before The Other
8. If Ever I Stray
9. Wessex Boy
10. Nights Become Days
12. Glory Hallelujah
El Passo Demos
1. Eulogy (El Paso Demo)
2. Peggy Sang The Blues (El Paso Demo)
3. I Am Disappeared (El Paso Demo)
4. English Curse (El Paso Demo)
5. One Foot Before The Other (El Paso Demo)
6. If Ever I Stray (El Paso Demo)
7. Redemption (El Paso Demo)
8. Song For Eva Mae (El Paso Demo)
9. Wanderlust (El Paso Demo)
10. Balthazar, Impresario (El Paso Demo)
England Keep My Bones solo B-Sides recorded at Old Blacksmiths Studios (Download code only)
1. Barbara Allen (a capella)
2. Eulogy (Acoustic)
3. If Ever I Stray (Acoustic)
4. Glory Hallelujah (Acoustic)
5. Song For Eva Mae (Acoustic)
6. Wessex Boy (Acoustic)
7. I Am Disappeared (Acoustic)
8. Balthazar Impresario (Acoustic)
9. Peggy Sang The Blues (Acoustic)
10. I Still Believe (Acoustic)
11. One Foot Before The Other (Acoustic)
12. Nights Become Days (Acoustic)
13. Redemption (Acoustic)
14. Rivers (Acoustic)
15. Wanderlust (Acoustic)
“England Keep My Bones” was Frank Turner’s 4th release back in 2011 and, to me, it was the album that really cemented his song writing style and playing. It's with this release that he solidified his Punk Rock take on Folk music in a way that was foot to the floor of the touring van. Looking back it doesn’t feel like ten years have torn past but here we are celebrating a ten year expanded reissue.
Nothing has been changed to the running order of the main album; it still opens with ‘Eulogy’ and takes us all the way through to ‘Glory Hallelujah’ and every song is attacked with zeal and passion. When he looks at himself in the eye on the album’s opener Frank knows he’s not the “perfect person” you know he means that he’s a flawed character. It helps ground him and gives the songs a feeling of authenticity. ‘I Still Believe’ rings clear as a call to arms and still features in his live set as does the tremendous ‘I Am Disappeared’. The songs feature narratives that feel quite personal, like you’re almost prying into his private life. Songs like 'Rivers' and 'English Curse' (especially the acapella presentation of the latter) shows how much he draws from the Folk traditions of telling historical narratives through song. Acoustic guitars are punctuated with a growling electric on ‘One Foot Before the Other’ to give the song a punch and a heaviness that sets aside to the rest of the album. Closing the album is Turner's atheist anthem 'Glory Hallelujah' where his chorus of "there is no God so clap your hands together" makes his ode to no religion or faith feel almost spiritual.
For Turner, the album touches on themes that run through his entire career. There are tales of loss and redemption, of touring and its feelings of disassociation, of trying to be better person. They’re present on his previous albums but “England Keep My Bones” is the point where everything falls into place and really helps to define him as an artist. Even his backing band The Sleeping Souls draw their name from a lyric in ‘I Am Disappeared’ from this release.
As with all of his anniversary releases Turner packs it full of special tracks. With "England Keep My Bones" we're given two lots of extras. The first is a collection of 10 songs recorded with the band in El Paso covering most of the album as well as including serval songs intended for b-sides. The quality of these are great and show that the ideas are pretty much there before they record the album properly.
Speaking of b-sides, a download code for 15 solo tracks of Frank running through the album and a smattering of other tracks is included. These offer an insight to how the songs work as solo offerings. Turner's playing really shines through in a way that you could quite easily overlook listening to the album, his voice a little rougher which gives you a feeling that he's gatecrashed a party, snatched the acoustic guitar from the loser in the corner murdering 'Wonderwall' and is leading us down a path of his choosing.
With this release we're reminded how good Frank is. Add the Sleeping Souls into the mix and you're creating a near unstoppable musical force. With this you start to see the blueprint clearly for his masterplan. Is it his best album? I'd probably say "Tape Deck Heart" or "Positive Songs for Negative People" beat it to that honour. This is a solid release, full of songs you'll find yourself singing along to at a gig (remember them?) hopefully soon. If you've never delved into his back catalogue this 10 year anniversary edition of "England Keep My Bones" is a great way to introduce yourself to Turner's talent.
Website - https://frank-turner.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/frankturnermusic
Review - Scott Hamilton