2019 album also available on Vinyl.
English alt/rock singer songwriter Frank Turner is releasing his eighth studio album ‘No Man’s Land’ a 13 track concept album that tells the stories of important, inspirational women throughout history who don’t receive the recognition they deserve. There are there are tales of musician Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Egyptian feminist activist Huda Sha’arawi, serial killer Nannie Doss, Byzantine princess Kassiani, and Resusci Anne –a drowned virgin whose face was used as the model for the medical CPR mannequin used throughout the globe. Says Frank “No-one else is writing these songs right now. That’s why I want to share these stories.” The announcement of No Man’s Land also sees the launch of a new podcast from Frank Turner titled Tales From No Man’s Land, which deep dives into each song on the record. The album was produced by Catherine Marks (Foals, Big Moon).
Frank continues “The record is, first and foremost, a piece of story-telling – a history record, if you will, a pretty traditional folk approach. I didn’t actually set out to write exclusively about women. In the beginning I was just toying with various stories that felt interesting to tell (and I was keen, after my recent records, to write about something other than my own life and feelings for a while). Now, clearly, there is an implicit politics in the fact that, in telling lesser known stories, I’ve ended up singing about women, and I’ll stand behind that, for what it’s worth. But my initial interest was in sharing some stories that I didn’t know before, and that I suspect most people didn’t.
"Nevertheless, as I say, there is a political angle to the record, and it’s one I’d like to handle sensitively. I welcome intelligent, good faith discussion of the point, actually. The main question that is being asked – and it’s a fair one – is what right I have, as a man, to write songs about women. That deserves a thoughtful response from me.
"My answer comes in two parts. Firstly, for the most part, these are stories that have not and are not being told right now, and I think they deserve to be. I feel like I’m not crowding out other voices in releasing these songs. It seems to me that songs about Huda Sha’arawi and Catherine Blake, to name but two, are rather thin on the ground right now, as far as I’m aware. I’ve learned so much in researching and writing this project, and I’d like to share that knowledge. And, given the streaming world we live in, me putting out a collection of songs doesn’t lessen the bandwidth for other writers to make their own statements.
"(A brief aside – there actually are a few songs out there about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, some of which I knew about and some I didn’t. She’s one of the more famous people on the album. The point of the song, for me, is that the history of rock’n’roll is inaccurately portrayed as being dominated by white men. As one of that demographic who plays that kind of music, I felt like it was good for me to acknowledge the people who actually laid the blueprints I’m following, rather than just always banging on about Elvis – as I’ve done myself in the past. Anyways – check out other songs about her by Mary Chapin Carpenter, the Noisettes, and my friend Emily Barker).
"Secondly, I’d flip the question a bit. I’m a songwriter and a singer, writing and releasing (and then promoting) music is what I do. I could write another album about my own life, or I suppose a record about men from history, but I’m not sure I see the point (especially the latter option), and it doesn’t catch my creative interest right now. For better or worse, I have an audience who are interested in the music I make, and who will listen to the next album I put out. Having a platform, why not use it for something more interesting or worthwhile?
"I have not tried to present this record as an aggressively feminist statement. I have no issue with that word – in fact I’m very much in favour of feminism, and equality in general. But putting that first would seem overbearing to me. I’m not trying to lead a parade I have no right to lead. My approach is perhaps best summed up by the name of a group I do a lot of work with on tour – The Ally Coalition (an LGBTQ+ rights group). It seems to me that my best contribution to all of this is to be just that, an ally, to use whatever platform I have to steer the conversation amongst my audience into better territory as best I can.”