I’m not ashamed to say that I find the world a frightening and desperate place of late, with its increasing loss of humanity and decency in the face of rising uncertainty and aggression. More and more it seems we’re losing sight of each other as individuals and hiding behind the safety and anonymity of our phone and computer screens. It feels too hard to turn on the news but too dangerous not to do so.
In the midst of all this comes the new album by Frank Turner, Be More Kind, the theme of which is taken from a poem by Clive James Leçons De Ténèbres, written as he battles terminal cancer. In the poem James writes, “I should have been more kind. It is my fate/ To find this out, but find it out too late.”
The album is something of a rallying cry to all of us to find a way to reconnect with each other and not give up, no matter how lost or confused we may be feeling. Mixed in, of course, is Turner’s signature no-bullshit take on the way we’re all headed if we don’t pay attention. This is particularly evident in the belter “1933”, – referencing the year the Nazis took power in Germany – featuring one of my favourite lines about a ‘shower of bastards leading the charge’. That’s not to say it’s necessarily a political album, but it certainly addresses the state of the world.
Title track, “Be More Kind” is hypnotic musically and lyrically it’s a beauty, and the addition of strings makes it as uplifting as you’d expect it to be from the title. t’s sneakily catchy, as I’ve discovered, waking on more than one occasion with it running through my head.
One of my favourite tracks on Be More Kind is “There She Is” – a straight-up, poke you in the heart love song. It’s the sort of song you’d want directed your way by the love of your life. My other favourite, and in stark contrast, is the delicious “The Lifeboat”. Darker, almost sinister, it builds to a magnificent sense of hope and endurance. It’s in this that Turner reminds most of a bard, his voice captivating and enthralling as the tale unfolds.
The 7th album is definitely a departure from previous albums sonically but I’m a fan of musicians who opt to evolve. As always, his lyrics are masterful and he’s a brilliant commentator with his finger firmly on the pulse of the world. Overall it feels like a message of love and hope, which is pretty much what we all need right now.
Review Score: 9.4 out of 10.
Be More Kind is released May 4th.