Rounding off an impressive 12 months that have seen him score his first Top 20 album on the fourth time of trying and announce a surprising tour date at Wembley Arena, folk-punk troubadour Frank Turner raids his prolific archive of "odds 'n' sods" yet again for his second alternative compilation, The Second Three Years. Featuring material plucked from various sessions that didn't make it onto 2009's Poetry of the Deed and 2011's commercial breakthrough England Keep My Bones (although three tracks from the latter's deluxe edition also appear here), the 23-track collection includes B-sides ("Sailor's Boots," "Mr. Richards"), four songs from his 2010 Rock & Roll EP, and live performances recorded both at the Union Chapel ("Father's Day") and Shepherds Bush Empire (an a cappella rendition of traditional folk standard "Barbara Allen"). While the self-penned first half of the album further explores his newfound melodic folk leanings, the second half concentrates on a selection of covers more in keeping with his punk past, with stripped-back interpretations of alt-rock favorites from Nirvana ("On a Plain"), NOFX ("Linoleum"), and Bad Religion ("My Poor Friend Me") alongside lesser-known cult classics from Mark Mulcahy ("The Quiet One") and Kerbdog ("Sally"). Proving he's not averse to the odd burst of pure pop, Turner also transforms Wham!'s "Last Christmas," Take That's "Greatest Day," and the Foundations' "Build Me Up Buttercup" into emotive and impassioned slices of frenetically strummed nu-folk, while the appropriately Dylan-esque tribute of "Song to Bob" and a poignant take on '50s comedic duo Flanders & Swann's "The Slow Train" prove just how far-reaching his influences extend. A rather ramshackle collection of rarities, The Second Three Years is perhaps more for his long-term fan base rather than any new converts, but it's an intriguing listen that suggests Turner's slow-burning rise to fame could reach even loftier heights.
AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien