Single Review: Frank Turner’s “The Gathering”
by Fluffy Cat // Alumni DJ
Frank Turner is back at it again with the release of his new single “The Gathering.” This British folk-punk artist has been slowly leaking tracks acoustically through his “Independent Venue Love” livestreams on YouTube, but this is the first release of an ‘official’ track since his collaboration with Jon Snodgrass last year.
Frank Turner historically leaned more on folk than punk with albums like Love, Ire & Song back in 2008, a beautiful rallying cry for the power of music and an exploration of the life around the artist, and England Keep My Bones in 2010, serving as a meditation on the country that he called home. Recent albums, particularly Be More Kind and No Man’s Land, even largely eschewed punk entirely. However, this track suggests a return to punk form.
Backed in the studio by famed folk guitarist Jason Isbell (of Drive-By Truckers, solo, and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit fame) and drummer Dom Howard (of Muse fame,) this track melds Frank’s distinctive shout-singing, a retro-inclined style and an excited undertone which fits the lyrics without much trouble. Frank has been utterly itching to return to the stage; I mean, this is a man who has in 15 years done more shows than nearly any other artist can boast. He recently passed show 2000 back in 2016, and has kept on going since. The gathering of fans and artists is certainly in his lifeblood. Back in 2009, he even based a music video, for Poetry of the Deed’s “The Road,” on the concept of 24 shows in 24 hours, hitting up the homes of fans and performing before moving on. This is not someone who does well staying at home.
This new song gives me vibes of “Four Simple Words,” a track released with 2013’s Tape Deck Heart, but with a harder edge and a more introspective turn. He waxes poetic, as usual, speaking about how the first beat drop will be ‘biblical’ or how we’re “butterflies in ballet shoes and Brothel Creepers coming out of our chrysalis.” Instead of speaking about how he wants to dance or about punk rock saving the soul, he’s speaking to the simple act of coming together.
The ending bridge, where he drops his voice and repeats the mantra, sounds cheesy to me, but it fits well within the song. It’s classic Frank, in the vein of “I Still Believe.” He’s not afraid to speak his mind and put things on the page that many of us will dream of. He will gladly sing about his heroes and the influences he has, and he sings here about the brotherhood of that crowd in the moment as they listen to their favorite bands go at it live. It’s wonderful to see Frank back in the studio. Even at his weakest, he’s still quite an enjoyable listen for me, and this certainly sounds like one of his strongest efforts.
Frank Turner fan groups that I lurk in have been really excited about this track, especially those fans of his who are more punk-inclined. After his beautiful split album with NOFX last year and with the content that has been showcased at Independent Venue Love (“Punches,” “Fatherless,” “Untainted Love,”) it seems like a return to the punk annals is in the cards. I am excited to see what will come from Frank Turner’s newest album, and I can already tell it will be one of his best.
If you’re interested in music like his, or bands such as NOFX, Laura Jane Grace/Against Me!, Andrew Jackson Jihad, or even Beans on Toast, I would recommend this single. It is an absolute banger that’s chock full of the energy that we need as the pandemic situation evolves. And, as we return to live music and live everything, it’s a strong representation of the pent-up frustration that we have felt as we’ve watched time pass by.
Listen to Frank Turner’s new single “The Gathering” here!