Not necessarily so much in style, which incorporates folk, punk, roots and balladry as much as it does shout-to-the-rafters rock ’n’ roll. But the spirit is pure rock – Turner has always been a missionary for the redemptive power of picking up a guitar, and like his stellar full-length 2009 album Poetry of the Deed, Rock & Roll seems designed to shake the cobwebs off anyone who ever doubted that three chords could change your life.
In fact, on the opening track, the arena-ready “I Still Believe,” Turner declares, “Who would have thought that after all, something as simple as rock & roll could save us all?” and he sings it like he means it. It’s a driving, guitar-heavy number complete with a shout-and-response chorus and sets the tone for what’s essentially a concept EP about rock ’n’ roll salvation.
“Pass It Along” has more of a mid-tempo folk-rock feel, and name-checks Dylan as it extols listeners to “sing for your sorrow, your wisdom, your rage,” while “Rock & Roll Romance” is an acoustic ballad of unrequited love and the illusory nature of fame. And Turner channels his inner Springsteen on the piano-driven “To Absent Friends,” which could be a sort of pop-punk sequel to “Bobby Jean.”
On the EP’s last track, the melancholy “The Next Round,” Turner compiles a laundry list of reasons to drink a little too much, and comes to the conclusion that “of all of the things I could become/a lonely drunkard isn’t one/for which I would have wished/when I was young.” It’s a stunning closer to an EP that stokes the fires for Turner’s next full-length album, due next year – until then, we’d all better keep strumming