Frank Turner – Be More Kind

Frank Turner has now been releasing solo albums for over ten years, yet it only seems like yesterday since he launched his first sonic blast of social commentary and personal poetry into an unsuspecting musical scene. He’s had his fair share of criticism though, mostly stemming from the fact that he went to Eton, and was therefore in the eyes of many “a toff”. Yet he was keen to point out from the start that he went there on some sort of scholarship, felt alienated throughout the whole experience which ultimately guided him into punk rock, and hence his punk band Million Dead, plus he shouldn’t be judged for where his parents sent him when he was twelve!

So now that’s the posh boy bit sorted, on to the actual music. He’s worked hard to build a fanbase, using a firmly DIY punk ethos, making as many friends as possible, giving out personal contact details, almost over compensating for his background, and fair play to him, as he’s formed a huge global fanbase and also become the closest thing we have to a modern day protest singer, but one who wears his heart firmly on his sleeve. For this seventh album, he’s gained the expertise of pysch rock duo White Denim on production duties for several of the tunes, and they seem to have helped bring a new dimension to his whole creative output.

Protest songs are often the hardest ones to write, as there’s a fine line between being a preaching prat to being someone who can make you view the world slightly differently, but on ‘Be More Kind’, Frank takes the protest baton, and offers it to the listener to run with and carry on the (non-violent) fight against a world which in Frank’s eyes is turning more aggressive and meaner by the day. The whole album brims with both optimism and a call to action with tunes such as ‘Don’t Worry’ with its clap-a-long rhythms and title track ‘Be More Kind’ offering a reassuring arm to guide you towards the light as Frank implores “In a world that’s decided it’s going to lose its mind, be more kind my friend, try to be more kind”. Whereas the uncomfortable truths of what is happening around the globe dominate much of the lyrical content as 1933’s stomping, upbeat melodies declare “I don’t know what’s going on anymore. The world is burning with a brand new light and it’s not one that makes me feel warm”, then on “Common Ground” he contemplates building bridges, and trying to be more respectful “If all we are is dust to dust ,then the traces of us are in the way we treat, the ones we meet”, over those folky guitar bursts.

He’s not completely lost his tender side either, as the themes of love and all its complications which were so prevalent in his last two albums are in full flow on tracks like ‘Going Nowhere’ with its reflections on a messed up life “When the future’s falling in and all that’s left is a hollow piece of hurt”, and conversely the joys of finding new love abound on ‘There She Is’. Trumpets, strings and even bursts of electronica sweep in and out of many of the songs on ‘Be More Kind’, and no one else apart from Billy Bragg has done such poetic socially commentary, and bitter-sweet love songs set to such upbeat and rousing melodies.

Frank Turner may have been around for over ten years and divided opinions but to those not already enthralled by his folk-punk, now is the call to action, he may just have released his finest work yet!

Release Date 4th May 2018 (Xtra Mile Recordings)

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From the early days of creating handmade zines, in a DIY paper and glue style, interviewing bands around town, then pestering Piccadilly Records to sell them, to writing for various independent mags such as Chimp and Ablaze, writing about the music I love is still a great passion. After testing the music industry waters in London with stints at various labels, being back in my hometown again, writing about this city’s vibrant music scene is as exciting as ever. All time favourite bands include Sonic Youth, Nick Cave, Patti Smith although anything from electro to folk via blues and pysch rock will also do nicely too. A great album, is simply a great album, regardless of whatever musical cage you put it in.