Frank Turner, No Man's Land - album review
Frank Turner is back with record number eight - and after the despondency that greeted Be More Kind last year it is safe to say this is better in almost every facet.
While the music again might not always live up to everyone's expectations from earlier Turner material, the stories are well worth hearing.
No Man’s Land is dedicated to telling the fascinating stories of women whose incredible lives have all too often been overlooked because of their gender.
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The women featured on the album’s 13 tracks come from across the world and history. There’s Byzantine princess Kassiani (The Hymn of Kassiani), Egyptian feminist activist Huda Sha'arawi (The Lioness), and Resusci Anne (Rescue Annie) whose face was used as the model for the medical CPR mannequin across the world. There’s the serial killer from the Deep South who plucked her victims from lonely hearts pages (Nannie Doss), the jazz-obsessed heiress who fought for the Free French (Nica Rothschild), a rowdy coach house landlady from 17th century Camden Town accused of witchcraft (Jinny Bigham), and the Wild West vaudeville star shot by a smalltown outlaw (Dora Hand).
Turner also used an all-female cast of musicians to help him craft the songs, as well as 2018 Producer of the Year Catherine Marks to finish them.
And he tells their tales pretty well.
Silent Key is about Christa McAuliffe, the social studies teacher who died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster when the rocket exploded less than two minutes after blasting off from Cape Canaveral in 1986.
It builds to a huge ending, emotive and tugging on the heartstrings as orchestral elements back up Turner's softly strummed guitars. And the refrain "I'm alive" she is rumoured to have said as the shuttle fell to earth is repeated.
There's the tragic Wild West tale The Death Of Dora Hand that fuses elements of country and folk-rock to tell the story of jealousy and love that led to Dora's death. It's more upbeat than its subject matter suggests.
And there's also the quick-witted Jinny Bingham's Ghost. Fast and fun-filled it quick-steps from start to finish with plenty of folk oomph.
While not every track is brilliant it hits way more than it misses while immortalising the tales of these women.
Frank Turner brings his latest tour to Birmingham's Symphony Hall on December 1