Album Review: Frank Turner – “Be More Kind”

The world is a big, beautiful place full of endless possibility. With how interconnected it has become through the annals of time and historic decisions made by our ancestors for hundreds of thousands of years, though, sometimes it can feel pretty small. This goes especially so with the digital age we’re living in today, keeping the internet in mind (Hi, reader!). So, even though the world is an expansive place, when one big force at play inside of it hits a trend, others tend to follow suit on the great ebb and flow that is life.

For a time, we’d ebbed upwards, although it’s pretty hard to argue that our planet Earth is flowing back into a downwards position regarding many of the poor decision our newly elected officials are making. So it goes, too, that when the world’s powers tend to lift their cudgels towards their own citizens, we speak up. Streets on and offline get rowdier, worked up by the blatant, crude actions our governments are taking against us, and we lift our fists in a cry for social action. Artists tend to join us in this great protest, often expressing their disdain towards the status quo and hopes for change in paintings, poems, and songs.

It’s no surprise that Frank Turner is back on his political game, then, given the current state of unrest seizing the globe. Former punk and current folkster, he’s as apt for this sort of foreboding musical declaration as the protest songwriters of the past might have been. As though he’s seen the fascism being so copiously and blindly applied to the world today fledge out into a full-on reigniting of a universally authoritarian future, he doesn’t mince his words of warning. Instead, he’s a force to be reckoned with, dishing out poignant lessons to grasp onto in the songs of which Be More Kind is comprised whether they be sung with ferocity or in a gentle croon.

Almost straight away, Turner fiercely forewarns us of the troubles that apathy while wholly realizing that his effects on the collective human consciousness as a single folk singer will likely be minimal. So, he hits the bar as he laments our fascistic future, knowing that jolting us from out of our complacency on songs like “1933” might be the only way to ensure a more world-aware tomorrow. This comes right after he assures listeners that all will be okay on “Don’t Worry”, so long as we always hold onto empathy and encourage the growth of such a unifying trait in us all.

This might seem a bit like two separate statements, at first, especially given the warm, reassuring nature of the opening track juxtaposed against the clearly punk-influenced, punchy, dystopian future painted in the song that immediately follows. This sort of gradient ride between reassurance and alarming pervades much of the album, too. Where Be More Kind’s title track embraces listeners like a sweet hug, assuring us that all we need to do is be more understanding of one another, “Make America Great Again” is a brutal takedown of you-know-who by proclaiming that the only way we can truly make the country better is by “making racists ashamed again.”

It might seem confusing at first glance, but the statements so concisely made by Turner all come together by the album’s end to make a clear, all-encompassing statement. Simply put, we must be kinder to one another, but we must be more open to scrutiny. There may still be a hope for those who go against the grain of the status quo and dare to support such vile leadership across the globe, but it’s going to be a joint effort of understanding and holding one another accountable for them to get there. For the majority of us who feels as though we are already more enlightened, we have to remember that no man is an island. We cannot simply turn our backs towards our fellow human beings, and we have to remember to reach out and hold one another in times of need. No great change is made overnight—most of the time, it’s done one person at a time.



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