On 28 January 2007, Frank Turner was about to set his road legs on a path that would take him beyond every horizon he'd imagined. Only a year before, he'd released a split 7” with Reuben on Xtra Mile Recordings for their Xtra Mile Single Sessions – 'The Real Damage' – and after months of selling CDRs with demo songs on it, this represented the first official studio release of his burgeoning solo songwriting. A few months later, the Campfire Punkrock EP was released containing four brand new songs and a studio version of ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For the One of Me’. But those other early demo songs weren’t forgotten and three of them would reappear on his first full-length release, Sleep Is For The Week. But there was so much more to the album than ‘The Real Damage’, ‘Romantic Fatigue’ and ‘Wisdom Teeth’.
Sleep Is For the Week set out Frank's oeuvre explicitly. He revealed an honest way with words and storytelling that leaned on confession to a sometimes uncomfortable degree ('A Decent Cup of Tea', 'My Kingdom For A Horse', 'Worse Things Happen At Sea', 'Father's Day' 'Must Try Harder') and a few humorous but passionate screes on his past mistakes and ongoing search for identity ('Back In the Day', 'Once We Were Anarchists'). These would both become calling cards of his songwriting soon after. The universal nature of the songs – all of our own failings brought to light in a way that’s both hard to hear and a relief; we were no longer alone in our doubts and mistakes – were what really grasped listeners.
This first set of songs was disarming in its ease to relate to, Frank’s varied compositions reinforcing his words. Whether transposing a youth misspent going to hardcore shows to a wild bluegrass flurry or a betrayal set to a tumultuous sea lament, the album immediately gave away Frank’s ability to take influences and make them fit cleanly into his sound, a talent he’d continue to hone with his future band, the Sleeping Souls, soon after.
But it was the huge sounds of first single 'Vital Signs' which gave unexpected hints to where his near-future lay, within a determined manifesto of cutting across the country until road maps were all marked by his trail. The promise and ambition, sonic and otherwise, would be fulfilled over the next decade.
This debut album documents one year of Frank's life, detailing a young man gradually finding his way through the torrid and tedious day-to-day, desperately seeking something else. Testament to the album’s quality and impact, the final song on it has become one of his most memorable and beloved among fans, 'The Ballad of Me and My Friends' recorded live at the Camden Barfly in London. This was, for many, the touchpaper and rallying cry to join the magnificent following Frank has garnered since 2005.
It's easy and comforting to romanticise the beginnings, the roots of any artist. Sleep Is For the Week is as of its time now as you'd expect a decade-old record to be, five albums later. But it’s undeniable that a true sense of Frank's sound and songwriting was formed within this record, as he snagged heart cords on unexpected leaps into the harsh reality of the choices he made.
While later albums like Tape Deck Heart show an even deeper and more sophisticated way of pulling and shaping his tales, it's endearing and endlessly impressive just how sure Frank seemed of almost every song on Sleep Is For the Week. You believe him because he believes in himself, and while obviously the best was yet to come, you couldn't have wanted more from this record at the time. Except that you really needed to hear what was next…
2 Disc CD / Gatefold double 180g LP tracklisting
1. The Real Damage
2. Vital Signs
3. Romantic Fatigue
4. A Decent Cup of Tea
5. Father's Day
6. Worse Things Happen At Sea
7. My Kingdom For A Horse
8. Back In the Day
9. Once We Were Anarchists
10. Wisdom Teeth
11. The Ladies of London Town
12. Must Try Harder
13. The Ballad of Me and My Friends
1. Romantic Fatigue (demo)
2. The Real Damage (demo)
3. Wisdom Teeth (demo)
4. Sunshine State (demo)
5. This Town Ain't Big Enough For The One Of Me (demo)
6. Longing For The Day (demo)
Includes download links of ‘Live From The Vic’ (a full live set from The Victoria, Swindon on 6 April 2007)