Protest music has a lengthy association with pop music, a
synergy initiated with Woody Guthrie, and Pete Seger and subsequently swept
into the mainstream by Dylan, Donovan, Peter Paul & Mary among other
harbingers of the modern folk movement.
More recently, the Brits accelerated those insurgent intents, first with
the Clash and subsequently via Billy Bragg and John Wesley Harding, determined
pundits who combined their chords and a cause with little more than an acoustic
guitar, a street-bred mentality and an urgency and passion driven by righteous
Consequently, Frank Turner sometimes sounds a bit redundant
in that he follows a similar MO, one borne on a steadfast strum and an
irascible English accent. He rails about
a variety of subjects, most of them having to do with the frustrations of
modern existence and an ongoing struggle simply to survive. The tunes are meted out with a ferocity and
tenacity that would seem tailor made for concert mode, with several songs
suited to sing-alongs and rallying cries, all designed to motivate the
masses. The similarities to Bragg are
all but unavoidable but Turner’s passion is authentic, and songs such as “Imperfect Tense,” “Reasons Not To Be An
Idiot” and “To Take You Home” each feature an upturned amplitude which gives
the material that extra thrust.
Love Ire & Song was previously released in the U.K.
last year, making it a sort of soft introduction for an American audience. Given his new label affiliation, it also
serves as a prelude to a newer disc, tentatively titled Poetry of the Deed and due in September. Whether or not he rises above the Bragg
comparisons (“All my songs have already been sung,” he confesses in “To Take
You Home”) and successfully connects with an American audience is anyone’s
guess, but based on the evidence given so far, Turner’s take on the role of
troubled troubadour proves both earnest and engaging.
Standout Tracks: “I Knew Prufrock
Before He Got Famous,” “To Take You Home,” “Photosynthesis” LEE ZIMMERMAN