The Turner - Hope Dies Last

Richard Wink 03/12/2009

Rating: 4/5

I believe it was the great prophet Haddaway that boldly proclaimed “What is love? Baby don't hurt me / Don't hurt me / no more”. We chase love like rats after bacon scraps, and when we carelessly lose love we are forlorn, crying into our favourite woollen blankets, with Kenny G in the background comforting us with syrupy notes from his soprano saxophone.

The Turner is a vehicle driven by Gary Tomkinson, a Manchester based singer songwriter who operates alongside an assortment of contributors including Sian Webley and Mike Harrries. Hope Dies Last is an interesting concept, looking at life through various vulnerable eyes; from the perspectives of people, down on their luck who cling on to something insubstantial, something that isn't tangible, yet something that nonetheless keeps them going.

It was Nietzsche who stated “Hope is the worst of evils, for it prolongs the torments of man.” Had he heard this album he might have retracted that statement. Tomkinson reflects beautifully, he's an old fashioned romantic who comes across as sincere in the most cynical of ages. With a voice that veers between Paul Heaton, and one of my personal favourites - Jackson Browne.

'Can I Bring Him Here?' lingers, crisp with morning dew, the debonair string arrangements on 'Each Time Love Lies' enchant, 'Reverie' captures Tomkinson's authentic vocal performance and 'Why Does Everything Always Come Down to Love?' totters on the frozen lake, waiting for a partner to lead it to a homely fire place.

There are too many troubadours knocking about the local live scene that straddle cliché and come across as trite timewasters pandering only to their own brittle egos. The Turner, simple and understated in terms of their musicianship prove that passionate songwriters can thrive even if they sing about the lovey dovey stuff.