Its been a while since Polly Jean has released any new material. Four years since White Chalk, to be precise. Gone is the piano driven introspection for a much more rounded musical sound and artistically, Let England Shake, is a concept piece drawing on Britain’s conflicts through the ages.
PJ Harvey – In Dark Places
Many of the tracks on the album such as ‘The Glorious Land’, ‘All and Everyone’ and ‘In The Dark Places’ evoke strong warfare imagery and like most of the album, are lyrically brilliant. PJ apparently researched a lot into the First World War which can be heard in many of the lyrics, but also more recent British conflicts such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Particularly in ‘The Words That Maketh Murder’ you get the feeling she may even be attacking the previous Labour government’s handling of the Iraq conflict.
PJ Harvey – The Words That Maketh Murder
Musically the album marks a massive change in tone for PJ. Far more quirky than previous works it jumps around from her default more rock centric self, incorporating folk and blues, and making use of live brass instruments and even an auto harp. The effect is superb and keeps the listener entertained throughout, whilst maintaining a poignant sombre reverence for the subject matter.
PJ Harvey – The Last Living Rose
Ultimately, intentionally or not, this is a protest album of sorts. The imagery is so brilliant one cannot help but feel empathy with the futility of war and I’m sure PJ would not have any problems with that. Personally I hate protest albums, but this doesn’t feel as political as others. Indeed it feels far more accessible and almost humanist, which means instead of chucking it in the bin next to the latest Billy Bragg album, I actually quite like it.
4 crumbles (Organic Somerset Apple)