After the break-up blues of his breakthrough album Tape Deck Heart, Hampshire’s Frank Turner is on the road to recovery.
Positive Songs for Negative People doesn’t exactly find him singing love songs from on top of the world, but he’s certainly a very different beast from the 2013 model.
He’s still a nifty lyricist with a real talent for words which either come from real life or sound like it – “She drew a line across the middle of my broken heart and said come on now let’s fix this mess” is a particularly splendid example – and spotting metaphors where others may not (“Don’t wanna fit like mittens, I wanna fit like gloves”).
Musically, it’s a chest-beating 21st century update of mid-1980s Billy Bragg, with a bit of The Wonder Stuff and The Levellers thrown in. Now and again Bruce Springsteen joins the party, too. There is nothing new under the sun. Not unless you count the big rock of Silent Key, which is the first song I’ve come across based on a space shuttle disaster but, against all odds, manages to be the best thing on the album. Song for Josh, a touching acoustic lament for former friend and suicide victim Josh Burdette, comes in a close second.
Like this? Try these: Billy Bragg, Talking with the Taxman About Poetry; Bruce Springsteen, Darkness on the Edge of Town
By Andrew Greenhalgh