Frank Turner Traces Punk Roots to America-folk Sounds on Powerful LP ‘FTHC’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

Photo credit: Ben Morse

There are two immediate observations after listening to Frank Turner’s latest LP, FTHC. First, the music is much harder than the earlier efforts that had him swiftly segregated to the punk folk ghetto at the start of his solo career. The opening track, “Non Serviam,” proves this well.  And secondly, the songs here are much more personal than a lot of his other offerings. Yes, he’s turned personal heartbreak and loss into beautiful relatable music over the years, but on FTHC, more so than any of his pervious studio albums, he is mining real life experiences for what is quite possibly his best album in a career already studded with accolades. 

Nowhere is that more apparent than on the song “Miranda,” a raw and striking song about Turner’s complicated relationship with his father who is now a trans woman. “My father is called Miranda these days/She’s a proud transgender woman and my resentment has started to fade,” Turner sings in the opening of one of the most forthright and emotionally powerful song about children/parent relationships since Cat Steven’s “Father & Son”. Their relationship is addressed again in the far angrier, but nearly powerful “Fatherless”.

While “Miranda” relies more on Americana and pop for a foundation, and the emotional “A Wave Across The Bay”- about his friend Scott Hutchison of Frightened Rabbit who died in 2018 – is more akin to indie pop, Turner taps back into the punk energy here and there on songs like “My Bad” and the powerfully addictive, scream at the top of your lungs “The Gathering” (boasting a guitar solo from Jason Isbell). As a refugee from London’s hardcore scene as a former member of Million Dead, it’s not surprising that Turner would turn back to his punk rock roots for inspiration eventually (he did write the seminal punk rock pre-game song last decade with “Four Simple Words”). The result of tapping into that anger with machine gun drumming, distorted chords and shouted choruses (above all, Turner knows his way around a solid hook) is pure blissful enjoyment.       

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