Album Reviews

Frank Turner



If ever an album title felt like a reflective and candid statement it’s, ‘Undefeated’, the brand new record from a battle-hardened Frank Turner. Indeed, this album is a significant one for the singer as it isn’t just his milestone tenth collection but is his first as an independent artist in over a decade after predecessor ‘FTHC’ concluded his label commitments.

This new found freedom comes at a time of change for Turner. Recent years have seen Turner hit his forties and settle down to married life by the coast. Away from the city and his previous classic rock n’ roll lifestyle, Turner has embraced a growing side-hustle as a producer. That production work has already heralded releases from PET NEEDS, The Meffs and others.

‘Undefeated’, however marks the first self-produced album from an artist who has worked with celebrated producers such as Rich Costey, Catherine Marks and Butch Walker. A the key role of a producer is to act as a sounding board and where necessary offer constructive criticism. One of the pertinent questions for this album then is can a determined Turner remain objective when marking his own homework?

Given however that Turner has already walked the tightrope of producing his own wife’s album (which is perhaps an even harder task), has gained significant recent experience and has had considerable exposure to the work of those previous esteemed collaborators, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that overall the answer to that question is yes.

Of course, the fact that he is again accompanied by his trusted group The Sleeping Souls (fresh from releasing their own separate album) also adds a level natural assurance to the recording process. As expected given the duration of their team-up, the Souls execute of the musical vision of Turner with precision.

Frank Turner – ‘Do One’

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We all hit those landmarks of life and we all arrive at different crossroads, both personally and professionally, although most of us find our solace and catharsis through different means to Turner. For Turner has always worn his heart on his sleeve and exercised his demons with the stroke of a pen and the strum of a guitar.

With now presenting a natural moment of self-reflection for Turner, it’s therefore predictable but welcome that ‘Undefeated’ finds Turner coming to terms with his new life whilst also taking aim at his doubters, naysayers and critics.

Turner has been the target of a catalogue of unwarranted and frankly quite absurd criticism and abuse during his career which sees him arrive at album ten beaten, bloody and bruised. Importantly though ‘Undefeated’ finds Turner defiant and ready for battle with opener ‘Do One’ perhaps acting as an apt tone setter for the album.

The following thirteen tracks all offer varying nods to Turner’s previous work as well as more than a glimmer of where he is going. These threads ultimately give the record something of a transitional feel; a celebration of a successful career but an acknowledgement that it’s also far from over.

The likes of ‘Letters’ and ‘East Finchley’ will fit effortlessly into the fan favourite category, and the rest of the album is able to hold its own with what is now a comprehensively strong back catalogue. Closing the record is the title-track which fittingly finishes the collection the same way it started – with Frank Turner rising up from two decades of hard slog, defiant and undefeated!

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