“Don’t let her be forgotten,” howls English singer-songwriter Frank Turner. And with these five simple words, he centralizes on preserving history —the history of women who fell between the cracks.
On No Man’s Land LP — Turner’s eighth studio album released on Xtra Mile Recordings/Polydor Records — his intersection of intellect and passion for detailing the tales of complex, haunting historical women spanning 13 tracks and podcast “Tales From No Man’s Land” is damn special.
“The record is, first and foremost, a piece of story-telling—a history record, if you will, a pretty traditional folk approach,” Turner wrote on his official website. “These are stories that have not and are not being told right now, and I think they deserve to be.”
His vast storytelling set to the whimsical sounds of bluegrass, country, folk, jazz, punk and rock ‘n’ roll that commonly correlate to the time, location and narrative of the subject of the song allows the listener to glance at the different facets of the female experience across history.
Opening track “Jinny Bingham’s Ghost” leads in with serene charm of Turner’s voice alerting patrons of Camden to be “sure to raise a toast/To the patron saint of the waifs and strays/To Jinny Bingham’s ghost.”
The folk essence becomes more upbeat as the band floods into a stream of continuous intensity as the lyrics similarly intensify as Turner chronicles the unique means of death that occurred for the men amongst Bingham.
Sentenced to be hung, she died with tragedies and questionable morals haunting her reputation. As the upbeat nature creeps into a slow, eerie essence, it is learned that the devil stood beside her.
The prevalent, folk essence is then replaced with a riveting, blues-and-soul sound with the swinging of rock ‘n’ roll guitar riffs commemorating Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s everlasting effect on music on track “Sister Rosetta.” As the “Godmother of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” she left her impact on musicians like Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and Johnny Cash.
Despite the lack of acknowledgement in the present for her role in music, “She knew that strange things happen every day/And that the white boy hype would eventually fade/But the way that she played would remain/Rosetta’s in the hall of fame.”
Amongst the amalgamation of musical genres that appear as one of Turner’s most generally diverse albums yet, he returns to his more traditional, acoustic sound for the tale of Byzantine composer and poet Kassiani on track “The Hymn Of Kassiani.”
This track also serves as an example of the shifting narratives across the album. Turner performs with a first-person view as if he is peering into Kassiani’s thoughts instead of a third-person view that details the narrative from simply an outside perspective.
After detailing these historical women from far away land, he returns to his homeland and to the woman vital in who he is today: his mom.
On track “Rosemary Jane,” Turners pulls on heartstrings in this beautifully-crafted song with an underlying, heavenly essence that transcends superficiality and presents the trials and tribulations that leads to her individual fabric and relationship with the world, her kids and herself.
Listening to No Man’s Land LP leads to the feeling of necessity to bring more light to historical women with diverse racial backgrounds, morals and modes of lifestyle, which also provoking interest in telling the stories of modern individuals that embody and are currently affected by the lives of those presented across the album.