Artist: Frank Turner
Album: Campfire Punkrock
Genre(s): Folk, Folk Rock
Length: 18 minutes
Label(s): Xtra Mile Recordings, Good Friends Records
01. Nashville Tennessee
02. Thatcher Fucked The Kids
03. This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The One Of Me
04. Casanova Lament
05. I Really Don’t Care What You Did On Your Gap Year
Frank Turner Campfire Punkrock Review
Campfire Punkrock is the first solo release of British folk musician Frank Turner. Taking the form of an acoustic folk EP, he departs from the punk rock sound of his previous band, Million Dead, entirely and it’s evident from the get-go that his voice is much more suited to the stripped down folk sound he has opted for.
His earnest lyricism always takes centre stage with the first song, a folk rock number titled Nashville Tennessee, acts as a sort of introduction to himself and his self-awareness when he sings “from the start, the land scaped my sound, before I’d ever been to America” as well as other references to his transatlantic influences while lacking knowledge of American geography from which they come. There’s also a sarcastic undertone to be found when he claims “and if I knew anybody who played pedal steel guitar/I’d get them in my band and then my band would get real far” as he points out the conventions, or formula, of country music that influenced him while defending himself by saying “and yes I’m in four-four time, and yes I use cheap, cheap rhymes/but I try to make a sound my own” and concludes his observations with a simple and honest mission statement of “the only thing I’m offering is me”.
This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The One Of Me continues the upbeat folk rock sound to sing about escaping from his current town of residence and cites “…talking to girls hazardous to my health. They’ve been in this gene pool so long they’ve got wrinkled toes” and “I still want to be buried here, just like I said but I’d prefer it if you’d wait until I’m actually dead” as his concerns whereas Thatcher Fucked The Kids shows a completely different side of Frank Turner.
He drops his backing band for a solo song using only his voice and acoustic guitar to dive into the world of protest songs. As the title implies, it focuses on former British Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and how she affected the youth of society in his eyes. The punk rock passion flairs up in his scathing analysis which ranges from calling children “a violent bunch of bastard little shits” to addressing the upper class reducing social mobility by saying that “as they were settled as the richest of the rich/they kicked away the ladder, told the rest of us that life’s a bitch”.
Casanova Lament and I Really Don’t Care What You Did On Your Gap Year shake things up further in terms of song-writing as they are low-key compared to the first three songs. The former being from the school of sad sounding singer-songwriters sitting on a stool sullenly and the latter brings the backing band into the mix again but without the energy that grips the listener at the beginning of Campfire Punkrock. This leaves the EP flagging a bit towards the end but Frank Turner’s ability to tell stories and convey his thoughts through matter-of-fact lyrics are the biggest strength and draw of Campfire Punkrock that will keep listeners attentive.
Frank Turner: Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Ben Lloyd: Electric Guitar
Nigel Powell: Drums
Tarrant Anderson: Bass