Frank Turner's prolific work rate continues with new EP Rock & Roll. The 5 distinct songs contained within are a taste of what's to come from the forthcoming follow up to Poetry Of The Dead. If that's the case, then 2011 could be a very promising year for Frank.
'I Still Believe' kicks of this brisk 20 minute musical journey. Reportedly it's the only one of these songs that will be featured on the album, however it's not quite the strongest of the tracks here. Featuring an up tempo guitar and piano led melody that recreates the live experience by sampling crowds for a call and response chorus, there's a certain joyous feeling to the track. "Who'd have thought, that after all, something as simple as Rock & Roll would save us all", essentially it's a love letter to a life on the road.
That sentiment continues into 'Pass It Along', which pays homage to small sweaty venues and the friendships formed along the way. Name checking among others Chuck Ragan and Jonah Matranga, Turner paints a romanticised vision of musical camaraderie with a backdrop of acoustic guitars. As the song reaches an electric climax, the dedication in the lyrics to Bob Dylan becomes even clearer: "cast a long shadow in the evening sun, and when the morning comes pass it along". Frank's pointing out the musical heritage of folk singers and the power of their songs on younger generations.
A solitary guitar backs the sweet and hushed vocal of 'Rock & Roll Romance', but there's also a wry sense of humour on show in the midst of this love song. "We could sleep in our pants", Turner sings to illustrate this less then glamorous romance. Suddenly 'The Next Round' ushers in guitars with a distinctly punk vibe, it changes the mood instantaneously bringing to mind some of his earlier solo work.
Finally the highlight of the songs featured here packs a emotional punch that had been absent elsewhere. "I'm not yet quite 30, but I feel like I'm dying" Turner sings on the melancholy ode to alcohol 'To Absent Friends'. Stuffed full of ideas Rock & Roll is a promising omen for future material and deserves to be listened to, it stands up well on it's own and may well contain some of Turner's finest material to date.