Album Review: Frank Turner – Songbook (2017 LP)

Arguably the world’s hardest-touring musician, Frank Turner has somehow managed to find enough spare time to collate and release a new album to see out 2017. Songbook is a double CD offering – the first CD being a celebration of some of his finest songs recorded so far in his career, and the second being ten alternative versions of some older songs.

If you’ve ever seen Frank live, you’ll know how personal his shows feel, which is no mean feat considering he’s orbited the earth almost as many times as the International Space Station, playing well over 2000 shows in the past ten years. That personal feel is achieved in large part by the variations he’s able to put into his songs when playing live. I’ve seen him a few times and don’t think I’ve heard any of his songs sound like the last time, and, for me, that’s a huge part of being a successful, evolved performer.

My all-time favourite song of his is “I Am Disappeared”.  ach time I’ve heard that live it’s had completely different, and equally spectacular, arrangements – Frank solo acoustic; full band with wonderful The Sleeping Souls; and a fabulous version which started out as a solo acoustic and then became a full band arrangement halfway through. Excitingly it is a similar arrangement to the latter that features as the reworked version on Songbook.

The reimagining of both “Glorious You” and “Josephine” are beautiful. Stripped right back and intimate you can really appreciate the poetic lyrics and elegant melodies. “The Way I Tend To Be” has also taken on a new personality in this alternative version – slowed down and featuring almost Gregorian harmonies it’s as close as you can get to being in the room with the man himself, captivating and engaging from start to finish.

The only new song on the album is “There She Is” and if it’s a teaser of the next album, then I just can’t wait to hear it. It’s a love song so utterly perfect in its ability to make your heart ache that I can’t stop listening. So many recurring themes of Frank’s music feature, from heartache to redemption to hope, but ultimately it’s love, pretty much shouted from the rooftops, and it’s glorious. For the eternally single among us it says all the things you long to hear from someone special and, unashamedly, I confess it makes me cry every single time. Dammit, Frank.

Review Score: 9.4 out of 10. 

You can get your hands on Songbook via iTunes, or through his official store here.