Sound — 8
Frank Turner has over his short solo career found a unique sound which is as far away from the hardcore punkish screams of Million Dead (his previous band) as possible. To compare him to any artist around today is rather difficult but in someways he is rather similar to fellow folk rocker Billy Bragg. This record in particular (being his first solo effort) offers for most parts a very raw, very personal Frank and it's incredible just how much energy and charisma is conveyed through the music even if it's just one man and his guitar. Musically the songs are relatively simple acoustic pieces but the brilliance behind this is anyone who is inspired to pick up a guitar and play these anthems will have no trouble singing along with the album.
Lyrics — 10
Frank Turner's talent shaines through when you just sit and listen to his words, as a lyricist the man is a genius who can tap into anyones emotions and create whatever reaction he wants. The album opens with 'The Real Damage' - a song essentially about a hangover where you wake up not knowing what the hell happened last night. There is a light touch of humour in this song at first but as it progresses, Frank manages to convey using only his voice a degree of regret below the surface, something I'm sure we can all relate to. One of my favourites on the album and certainly it's most saddening and deeply honest is 'A Decent Cup of Tea' a song about that person we all long for but they don't seem to notice we care so much - "It's not about the days where everything has turned out right, Yeah it's more about the moments when she calls me in the night, To make her cups of tea and wash the weary worries from her head, And to draw the pain out slowly as I put her into bed." Give this song a listen and tell me that line doesn't bring a tear to your eye. Although he may not have one of the most elegant of vocal styles, as he utters every word you feel his pain almost as though he never did get over the heart break and by singing he is revisiting the memories. Luckily the he next offers the perfect pick-me-up in the form of "Father's Day" anotherly lyrically sublime effort this time documenting a neglectful, cheating father. I could talk for hours of the perfection in lyrical style but perhaps the record's highlight (musically as well as lyrically) comes in the form of 'Ladies of London Town' - a song featuring powerful, growling guitar work. Another song about losing out in love, Frank seems to have written this one whilst observing the manerisms of the female race during a night out in London. You can really place yourself in his position - standing alone in that club looking on at couples and wondering what you're doing wrong.
Overall Impression — 9
As a debut album this record is incredible. Although it may never be heard by a large audience, there is no shame in that because no doubt Mr. Turner is very proud of this record. He has created some very catchy tunes here and after just a few listens you'll be singing every word. Amazingly, the stories in this collection of songs are incredibly blunt and personal but at the same time are univeral and offer something for everyone to relate to. I personally will be placing this album amongst my favourites of all time - a bold statement I know, but never before has any record resonated so deeply with me. Ihope that you give it a listen and it helps you emotionally as much as it has helped me. I personally want to give it 10/10 but in reality I think there is a hint of a weak moment in the middle of the record so it isn't quite perfect enough - it gets a 9. As an aspirant musician myself this is the slbum I want to make and it has had great influence on me - I hope it does you too. Give Frank a chance!