UK singer/songwriter breaks out in front
By Joey Cutler
Just a few short years ago, in the U.S.A., the name Frank Turner was a name that turned up on concert tickets for acts like the Dropkick Murphys in a ‘supporting’ capacity, as he wasn’t quite yet known in his full capacity as a brilliant singer/songwriter whose sound fit in somewhere between a sharp, forked-tongue Joe Strummer and a witty Elvis Costello as clever as he’d ever been. Little did Americans know that the Epitaph Records’ signee was about to go from opening act to absolute feature headliner sought out world-wide.
Frank Turner and his Sleeping Souls embarked on an arena tour throughout the UK and had already filled seats in such places as London’s 02 Arena and Wembley Arena. Ever since, his star has been rising rapidly, State-side included.
‘Positive Songs For Negative People’, is the follow-up to 2013’s ‘Tape Deck Heart’, which was essentially the turning point for Turner, in terms of his released material and its widespread appeal to audiences around the world.
According to Turner, “the objective was to try moving forward, musically, by doing things differently than the last time around, so while there was the presence of folk, the rock & roll and punk rock really came through.”
Keeping the musical approach evolving wasn’t the only concern this time around. Frank says that ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’ is “Intentionally explicit, coherent and representative of what the Lost Souls and I do as a live band.”
Turner and Co. decided to record ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’ down in Nashville the way a newer band might go about recording their first album. They set a goal for themselves to record these road-tested songs–that had come together out on the road; during sound checks, long van and bus rides, and any other place they happened to be writing and creating while readying to perform their already established music–under whatever constraints they imposed on themselves, including Frank’s vocal delivery on essentially every last track from beginning to end, with no “punch-ins” or other studio tricks to enhance the ultimate outcome.
Writing while out on the road presents a whole new set of challenges, as one might be able to deduce. Turner mentions that looking at the new album, ‘Positive Songs For Negative People’, he has since dealt with the heartbreak that he allowed us to experience with him back on ‘Tape Deck Heart’. He admits, “Once that album was done and was out on the road touring for it, it was a great sense of liberation. You know, I don’t have to write songs about fucking up at love anymore,” he says with a hint of whimsy while remaining sincere. “Actually, we [he and his female inspiration] just had lunch yesterday. I was great!”
‘Positive Songs For Negative People’ is a brilliant step in a forward direction for Frank Turner, who happens to be one of the most, if not the most, significant singer/songwriters to emerge from the United Kingdom and transcend national borders worldwide, in the last decade. Turner has the spirit of legends like Joe Strummer, Johnny Thunders, Wreckless Eric, and is capable of existing among the likes of Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, etc. The album drops on August 7, 2015, and is well worth the time to give it a once over; if you give it that attention the first time, it’ll likely be a pleasure for you to put it back in a second and third time.
If you want to check out the earlier material, Turner is all over YouTube. ‘Tape Deck Heart’ is the last release, but the earlier material illustrates his complete development and musical and artistic evolution.