Monday 19 August 2019

Frank Turner - No Mans Land

Frank's wikipedia entry describes him as "a punk and folk singer-songwriter".
On his latest album, he continues to strip back the Punk affectations and the emphasis is on the folky singer-songwriter.
Not that that is a "bad" thing, but the Punky bit was the one thing that gave his records a bit of excitement, an air of urgency, anthemic-ness, and a bit of a hook.

'No Mans Land' is a concept album (of sorts) - a collection of 13 songs celebrating women through history and their stories.
Mr Turner describes it thus: "an album dedicated to telling the fascinating stories of women whose incredible lives have all too often been overlooked by dint of their gender."
And he goes one stage further by engaging a female producer and a plethora of female musicians.
A concept and delivery that cannot be denigrated, but I do have the feeling of "trying too hard" about it.  There is nothing wrong with a group of songs focussing on worthy people, or indeed employing female musicians as your backing band.
It's only when you make a point of highlighting this fact does it become less about the content and more about the conceit.
Am I supposed to listen to these songs in a different way?  Am I supposed to take some education or thought from them?  By highlighting and celebrating a perceived minority, are you not re-enforcing that minority status?

But I quibble - this (his eighth album) is a good album housing 13 well written, well played tunes.  None of which jar on first listen, and each holding enough to warrant repeated listening.
Indeed, the second listen was more rewarding than the first
And then it hit me - my error on first listen was expecting a Frank Turner album.
Yes, it's his name on the cover, he does the songwriting and singing, but it is more of a Frank Turner "project" than a Frank Turner "album"

Suspending my expectations, I can report that this album is (nearly) "All killer, no filler" - maybe not "All killer", but there are no whiffs of filler about it.
Sometimes his (possibly affected) Street Busker accent takes over, but generally the songs do the job they intended to of telling a story against a musical back-drop.  And that backdrop is not one dimensional radio friendly pop-folk (or whatever genre Frank is now ploughing?), there's a bit of Country & Western ("The Death Of Dora Hand"), a jazz diversion complete with saxophone ("Nica"), and almost a bit of Tudor Minstrel going on  peppered throughout (notable on opener "Jinny Binghams Ghost").  And there are just a couple of tunes that sound vaguely recognisable, but are not wholesale nicks from elsewhere.
Having said that, the album does contain a re-record of "Silent Key" (from 2015s 'Positive Songs for Negative People').  For me, that song didn't sit comfortably on that album, but works in this setting.

If nothing else, it has got me searching wikipedia for more information about the songs subjects.
So maybe I was supposed to take some education from this "project".

Sister Rosetta

The Death Of Dora Hand

Friday 9 August 2019

A New Season

This 'ere blog of mine is ostensibly (or more correctly "totally") a music based thing.
But now for a departure.

7:30 on Friday 9th August marks the beginning of a new Premier League Season, and by association the beginning of a new Fantasy Football Season.

For the last 3 weeks I have be cogitating, tinkering, referring to wikipedia, asking questions (and giving opinions/answers) on a Fantasy Football forum, all in the hope/belief of improving on my previous best of  2,238 points and a ranking of 158, 907 (out of about 5 million).
That was last year, and it's taken 11 years on Fantasy Premier League to get this far.
Having won a virtual League last year, the pressure is now on to perform as previously - hence the 3 weeks of focus, concentration, and (probably according to everyone else) time wasting.

My team is now set, and it's too late to change it now.  But I an going to find myself for the next 38 weeks staring at the BBC Website on Saturday afternoons watching for scorers, assisters, yellow cards, and generally shouting at the screen when a manager decides to substitute (or leave out) one of "my" players.
Sundays will be spent in a sort of Post Mortem state, as I analyse the errors in my team, take a sneaky look at other Teams, re-watch Match Of The Day looking for slight hints of form in previously un-considered players, and plotting my Transfer strategy for the next couple of weeks.

Fantasy Football - designed to appeal to Football fans with a love of statistics and spreadsheets
(that'll be me then!)

When I first used the Fantasy Premier League website, I thought it was just me.  Later I discovered several users on The Afterword site (another place on the interweb where I spend (possibly) too much time), and recently more Fantasy Football-ists have come out of the woodwork at work.
I am now a member of 4 Leagues - I feel like Manchester City now fighting for glory on 4 fronts.

If there are any other players out there, see you at
And if there are others out there, I'm hoping you understand my desire to get that team "just right" (or am I being too obsessive?)

And now to return to the musical theme:

Genesis - Match Of The Day