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Let England Shake - PJ Harvey

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Genre: Indie Rock & Punk / Music Album / Artist: PJ Harvey / Release Date: 1 /

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      27.01.2012 21:58
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      A quirky album that is a real grower and stayer IMO, where a lot of work has been put into it by PJ

      P J Harvey, is a British female 'alternative' musician/singer/songwriter. She's relatively unknown in the UK despite having been around on the music scene for some 20 years now, although she's well known to anyone who regularly watches Jools Holland or listened to John Peel. She has a smallish, devoted following here, whereas she's a much bigger name in Scandinavia, France, Australia and the USA, where over the years she's appeared several times on both the Dave Letterman and Jay Leno talk shows as well as extensively touring there. Even Arnold Schwarznegger has personally met her.

      Her first album, 'Dry' was released to critical acclaim in 1992. Then, her songs could best be described as eccentric post-punk pop style With each successive album not only did her musical style become bluesier but even her singing style began to change. By 2001 she achieved her greatest recognition with her Grammy nominated album 'Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea' which also won her the Mercury Prize. PJ was the first female artist to win this prize. In addition 'Stories' was included in Time Magazine's top 100 all-time greatest albums. This was PJ's most accessible 'pop' album with some great songs being a mixture of guitar driven rock, and darker, quieter songs, PJ's voice at times sounding similar to Chrissie Hynde's.

      PJ's Latest Album

      A few months ago PJ Harvey won her second Mercury Prize with 'Let England Shake' (LES), her 8th album released in Feb 2011, the first winner to do that twice. PJ Harvey, now in her 42nd year sounds nothing like her former self. Were you to play a track from 'Stories' against the title track here to a non-PJ fan and ask what they had in common, I'm sure such people would not make the connection that it was the same person. PJ's punk/blues credentials have now been laid aside for a quieter, more folksy sound. On LES her voice mainly sings in a quaint English accent using falsetto or soprano compared to her more familiar hard-edged, contralto pitch, and Americanised vocals of the past. She seems to be deliberately singing in a sardonic way on a few of these tracks, eg The Words That Maketh Murder. The songs sound much more suited to folk-rock music fans. It seems like PJ Harvey may have musically broken with the past. LES is a concept album with all the songs having a common theme of England's past wars and battles particularly their aftermath. PJ Harvey stated that she did a year or so of historical research before writing these songs. Although she claims the album is not supposed to be anti-war or political, more of an observation, one can't help but feel that the overall sentiment lies in the former camp.

      Let England Shake is not a long album, with its playing time coming in at just over 40 minutes with 12 songs included. The lyrics of some of these songs are dark, grim yet at the same time poetic, all written and arranged of course by PJ Harvey. As usual in her case, most of her songs take several listens, after which you'll either 'get it' or you never will. LES is no exception. Nearly all the songs are 3 chord tunes and sound deceptively simplistic at first. But I found that most of them grow on you with repeated listening. Some of the songs have a haunting feel to them, eg Hanging In The Wire is sad, yet gorgeous. Other treats I found were The Glorious Land, Let England Shake, All And Everyone and The Last Living Rose. The latter song is a little like the PJ of past with its steady rock beat and guitar.. Most of the tracks feature PJ playing autoharp rather than guitar. One song, Written On The Forehead is a good example of a song I didn't like at all to begin with. It starts out very ethereal then develops into a reggae beat, which is sampled from an old 1969 forgotten reggae tune. After several listens it suddenly grabbed me. Now it's my favourite song here.

      To sum up I like this album overall. Some of the tracks I prefer a lot more to others, but I think PJ Harvey took a brave step making this, and with its dark and sometimes unrelenting bleak subject matter and some quirkiness added I can't see LES having mass appeal. I believe that anyone who likes challenging, "popular music" with a difference should give this a serious listen. Meanwhile, it doesn't do PJ justice to simply review LES on its own without consideration of how she used to sound, as she was so different several years ago. To get a more rounded idea of what she's about it won't do any harm to listen to some of her earlier work

      Other recommended P J Harvey albums:

      Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea,
      To Bring You My Love.

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      23.05.2011 08:57
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      An anti-war album that largely buries the message under a musical style I'm not a particular fan of

      Whatever happened to girls with guitars? The middle years of the last decade were awash with them, with The Gossip, Sandi Thom, Amy Macdonald and KT Tunstall all making breakthroughs during that period. Whilst all of them are still recording, you seem to hear less of them these days, as the sound has been replaced by female pop singers, largely the ones spawned from things like "X Factor" and "Pop Idol".

      P. J. Harvey certainly had an interesting decade. She opened by winning the 2001 Mercury Music prize and received high scores in various best album polls from both NME and Q magazine. Her last album "White Chalk" was a bit of a change of direction musically and she has followed this with "Let England Shake", which largely focuses lyrically on the wrongness of war.

      The album opens with "Let England Shake", which is an interesting mid-tempo indie tinged pop song with jangly guitars and a high pitched vocal. Unfortunately, the song doesn't have an awful lot of variation in the sound, so it does get a touch dull after a while and the vocals are buried a little under the music, which takes the edge off the message of the lyrics.

      There's an almost hypnotic drum beat running through "The Last Living Rose", which helps drive it along, although the tempo is almost dirge like to begin with. When the off key horns come in, it becomes a little more interesting, but only slightly. Once again, it's largely an indie based tune that reminds me slightly of Joy Division, only with a female vocal. However, it's a very short song and just as it seems to be hitting its stride, it's over.

      Next up is "The Glorious Land", which is much more interesting musically, with a slightly faster tempo, a decent guitar riff and a trumpet blowing "Reveille" running through it. The vocals are a little higher in the mix this time around, although it's not as powerful lyrically as some of the other tracks on the album and the trumpet does act as a minor distraction in parts.

      "The Words That Maketh Murder" is one of the more interesting songs on the album, in my opinion. It's got a decent tempo and a jangly guitar riff and the vocals are once more a little higher in the mix, so the message gets through. There's a pop influence to the sound here and the chorus has a jazz type feel, which sits slightly off kilter with the lyrics, but this is certainly one of the album's better songs.

      The next track is "All & Everyone", which is certainly one of the more varied compositions here. It opens with a slow, indie tinged tempo almost dirge like in pace and sound, but does change through the song and the tempo increases as it goes, before then slowing again towards the end. This is one of the first songs where the impact of the lyrics come through, although that doesn't make it pleasant listening with its talk of death and corpses. Despite the music changing several times throughout the song, this is one of the longer tracks on the album and does outstay its welcome a little.

      Next is "On Battleship Hill", which starts with a slightly cheerier guitar riff, almost as if it's acting as a counterpoint to the previous track. However, about a minute in, the guitar changes to a Spanish guitar sound and the vocals are deliberately high pitched and almost operatic. Fortunately, it changes back to the original riff, but that strange and chaotic opening, whilst perhaps attempting to show the chaos of battle, only seemed messy enough to me to deaden some of the enjoyment and impact of the song.

      "England" is another down-tempo dirge like track with some interesting Eastern sounding vocals over the intro. Once again, there's lot an awful lot of variation through the track, although it does expend into something a little wider and louder later on. Once again, the lyrical impact is largely lost by the vocals being buried lower in the mix.

      "In the Dark Places" has a lovely fuzzy effect on the guitar, which offers something slightly different and it's slightly lighter sounding in the musical tone, if not in the lyrical content. Musically, this is one of the songs I most enjoyed, almost having a pop edge to it, but once again it's a very short track and seems to be over way too soon.

      There's an up tempo guitar riff that opens "Bitter Branches" that has a nod towards a slightly depressed KT Tunstall. Once again, the lyrics have an entirely different feel to the foot tapping guitar riff and they're again slightly buried in the mix, but this is an enjoyable song, which can't often be said with this album's dark undertones. Again, disappointingly, it's a very short song and ends too soon, which seems to be the case with all the tracks I most enjoy listening to on the album.

      "Hanging on the Wire" has a different sound to many of the tracks here, with the piano to the fore and the vocal having a much softer edge to it. There's a distinct poop edge to the music that reminds me of Vanessa Carlton, especially when allied to the softer vocals, but the lyrical content ends all comparisons. Unfortunately, once again here there isn't an awful lot of variation in sound or tempo throughout the song to keep it interesting.

      The opening lyric to "Written on the Forehead" takes a different tack to many of the earlier tracks, which gives some pause to the listener. There's a very strong pop influence here, reminding me a little of Youssou N'Dour in parts. Indeed, the backing vocals and the beat suggest this could even be a possible club song if it were remixed a little. Unfortunately, the lyrical content isn't nearly as strong as some of the other songs, suggesting perhaps a minor nod towards commercialism which, unfortunately for my mainstream tastes, makes it one of the songs that most appeals to me.

      The album ends with "The Colour of the Earth", which opens with a lyric suggesting it's relating to an older war than the previous songs. The male vocal is a little bit of a shock, until Harvey comes in later on, the combined voices giving this a "Fairytale of New York" type vocal arrangement, although the music is more discordant, yes retains the folk feel of a band like the Pogues. Once again, my main disappointment here is that it's so short, but the last couple of songs give the album a strong ending, which raises it in my estimation.

      I may be in the wrong target audience for an album like this, not being politically aware enough, nor enough of a fan of the jangly, indie based sound for it to really appeal and for me to want to listen to it closely enough to make out the lyrics. Additionally, with the album being purchased as a download, I don't have easy access to the lyrics through the inlay card, which may have given things a different edge if I'd been able to work them out a little better.

      Overall, then, this was a disappointing album for me, despite a couple of high points, especially in the last couple of tracks. However, for someone more inclined to take the time to try and understand the message of the song, or someone more interested in the style of music, I can see how it could be an album with a great deal of impact. As it is, this left me unsure as to how Harvey has had the longevity she has managed or how she has won awards.

      The cheapest I have seen the album available for was £2.89 on eBay, which I don't consider good value for only 12 tracks and 40 minutes of music, but a dedicated Harvey fan or passionately anti-war aware person may well do. My iTunes download was £7.99, which I'm not overly impressed with, although it's worth noting that there is also a version with a bonus track and 2 videos available for £9.99. Personally, whilst I wouldn't recommend the album, it's probably more worthwhile buying a physical version than as a download if you are interested, as the lack of the inlay card here may well have severely damaged the impact of the lyrics and, as a lyric writer and fan, this may have taken it out of my sphere of interest.

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        20.05.2011 10:26
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        Something very different which will either blow you away; draw you in or leave you cold!

        **My right to witter!

        In our country of free speech of course we believe everyone has a right to a voice, but sometimes it helps to give a context to that voice - here is mine.
        I am a musician in classical terms: I teach piano, run choirs and record in both "high brow traditional", very early musical instruments and electric guitars. I have a huge range of tastes: my ipod has Handel's Messiah next to Coldplay next to African drumming raps next to Purcell next to Madness with the odd smattering of MC Hammer! I also have an English degree and love the challenge of tricky word play in TS Eliot and such weighty writers. I'm not using this as a platform for self focussed wittering: the relevance of my interests will soon become apparent: (honest!)

        **PJ Harvey

        PJ Harvey is a forty something somewhat eccentric artist from Dorset who takes her musical composition very seriously. She does not set out solely to entertain: has a message and uses her musicianship to get it across ( - not always successfully in my opinion but more of that later. )
        Having been a member of several bands and with a mastery of a huge range of instruments including piano, saxophone and voice, she set up her band PJ Harvey in 1991 and has achieved many accolades for her very individualistic works.
        As a composer she begins with lyrics. In interview she has cited her influences as TS Eliot, Harold Pinter and the artist Salvador Dali. All of these guys are "deep". They all have dark sides to their work and are deliberately challenging - often leaving the reader or viewer unsettled and sometimes disturbed. This is evidently her starting point too.

        **"Let England Shake" Track Listing
        1. Let England Shake
        2. The Last Living Rose
        3. The Glorious Land
        4. The Words That Maketh Murder
        5. All And Everyone
        6. On Battleship Hill
        7. England
        8. In The Dark Places
        9. Bitter Branches
        10. Hanging In The Wire
        11. Written On The Forehead
        12. The Colour of The

        **War is not a good thing

        The basic premise of this album is that war is pretty horrific. Looking at lyrics alone I become a little cynical. Her wording is expressively poetic and I am certainly in favour of music having a political voice or rationale, but I feel that some of her descriptions are deliberately obscure and inaccessible, making them more likely to be ignored rather than embraced. Academia for academia's sake is never a good thing.
        However, what PJ Harvey is adept at is unsettling the listener. The overall effect is of a mournful questioning yet vibrant lament which is as graspable as fog. This is set against and almost subliminal nationalism in the form of very traditional music. It is disturbingly difficult to listen to yet with snatches of absurdly accessible folk song which serve to further emphasize the strangeness of the rest.

        **Instrumentation

        Whereas in previous compositions Harvey has made much use of the piano, here she is focussed on the unusual alto harp which gives a guitar like sound but with a more variable quality. Similarly, she has worked on a more throaty, mellow vocal line designed to match the full effect of the alto harp. She has a clear passion for experimentation with sound and in recording this album in a Dorset Church left quite a lot of rrom for improvisation in its final performance. Much use is made of percussion and once again here she breaks the mould. Although elements of rock and blues styles are present, the rhythms are driving and ever varied. Drummer J-M Butty excels.

        **How much do I need to know?

        This album has captivated me as a work of art might just grab you unexpectedly every now and then. It is by no means sugary easy listening and if a general feel is all you're after here, do feel free to skip the next more detailed track descriptions and whizz down to the "exhausted yet?" section. For those with a strong constitution: some more thoughts...

        **Poignant Tracks
        The whole album is worthy of not one but several listenings and wordy descriptions will do them no justice. But allow me to try to describe some elements of a few memorable tracks in order to give you an idea of what is on offer here.

        "Let England Shake"

        On April 18th PJ Harvey performed this track on the Andrew Marr show. Marr is careful not too give away too much opinion, but is clearly happy to have such a "contentious" star on his air time - contentious in terms of critique rather than in Lady Gaga terms! Pj Harvey stands in feathered black attire and the song begins with a throwback repeated L-P song line "Take me back to Constantinople". This rather bizarre beginning sets the scene for a non conventional style and PJ's first playing of her alto harp and seemingly discordant melody strikes an initially uncomfortable resonance. The song develops with increasingly powerful driving beat and climaxes with her own take on the phrase of the song which finally becomes melodic in the same way as the recording.
        The debate regarding the efficacy of the passionately written lyrics continues, but even without full understanding at first hearing, there is no doubt we have been taken on an uncomfortable journey - shaken up and then heightened to some kind of understanding or realisation. This is programme-mood music at its very best.

        "Last Living Rose"

        "Godamn Europeans, take me back to beautiful England/
        and the great and filthy mess of ages/
        and battered books and fog rolling down behind the mountains/
        on the graveyards of Dead Sea captains".
        See what I mean about the lyrics? They are undoubtedly deep and worthy of A level study, but a catchy rock song they are not! This song is bluesy and melodic and the listener is drawn in to hear the challenge of her work. Drawn from research and genuine war reports there is a simplicity to this track and with no intellectual ego battling for a voice as many artists attempting political works. PJ is simply out to create the mood in which to highlight the inhumanity of war.

        "This Glorious Land"

        Here we have some throw backs to early PJ with a stunning melodic line. It is less raw than earlier works, but the contrast with the bugle call to charge at the beginning is very powerful and, if you'll excuse the not-meant-to-be-pompous-literary reference, is reminiscent of the
        "Theirs not to make reply,
        Theirs not to reason why,
        Theirs but to do and die" WW1 poetry of Alfred Lord Tennyson. The contrast between the vibrant nationalistic bugle and the subsequent carnage is breathtaking.

        "All and Everyone"

        This is another exhausting journey piece. It is strewn with death imagery and has a driving, building quality to it that is nightmarish in its persistence. At first listening you are aware of a drama unfolding. It takes a good read of the words to perhaps understand fully, and in this sense you could criticize the track for not standing on its own. However, there is enough to gain from its musical impact before the added significance of the lyrics to make worthy of a hearing.

        "The Colour of the Earth"

        The final song of the album makes most use of the the folk song elements. It describes the disastrous Galipoli battle of 1915 and has an almost Pogues style. The contrast of the accessible folky style with the depth of the subject matter serves to give the track an ethereal sentiment - something you can't quite grasp. The horror versus the simplicity or the simplicity of the horror - all elements combine to mix the regret of war with the holding on to the traditional rights of your country.
        Exhausted yet?
        If you have survived my witterings thus far you will have a sense of the complexity of the song writing on this album. PJ Harvey is undoubtedly an individual. She is not overtly political in her writing but does intend to challenge and to bring you along on a journey - not always comfortable but always emotional. Her music haunts, creates, surprises and invigorates.
        Whether the lyrics are too obscure in their references continues to be a question. Whilst not ego driven, there is a slight question in my mind as to whether PJ Harvey does not want you to entirely understand - this is a theme in this kind of literature. The lack of understanding is part of the dis-ease. I have yet to decide if there is a pomp to this obtuseness or merely another strand of complexity. In some TS Eliot writing the lack of crystal clarity creates a mood of its own and may be the actual intention.
        Whatever you decide, the music of PJ Harvey is unique and moving. Like it or loathe it, it bears listening to simply because it is so different. The journey is undoubtable and can be draining. If you seek to really get under its skin the lyrics are worth a study as are not always clear above the strands of melody and percussion.

        **Details:

        Let England Shake: Audio cd Feb 2011
        by PJ Harvey
        label: Universal
        Guide price: online around £10.
        Amazon £8.93 + pp.
        CDwow £7.99 - 10.99

        **Verdict**

        Something so different from the run of the mill popular musical entertainment that it is well worth a listen.
        Whether you "enjoy" it or not remains to be seen. I have the feeling that PJ Harvey is the Marmite of the pop world.

        (also on ciao under username "Cutecandy" - c u there!)

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          18.05.2011 23:41
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          Overall good album...

          Introduction

          Before 'Let England Shake' I would have considered myself a casual PJ Harvey fan. I mean this in the sense that a few songs might have made a Spotify Playlist, but I hadn't committed to buy an album. This changed when I first heard the lead track with the same name from 'Let England Shake' - the haunting musical accompaniment fits perfectly with Harvey's mellow voice, and the meaningful lyrics all combine to make a song, and album, as far away from mainstream (while still being good!) as possible.

          Compared to Earlier Work

          I don't know if this is a personal view (none of my friends have even heard of PJ Harvey, so it's hard to gain perspective), but in my experience a PJ Harvey album is either great, or with no disrespect intended, not so great... For example the album 'White Chalk' is a great album with a few unbelievable songs - with 'Dear Darkness' being my favourite, just for the sensational piano accompaniment which develops along with the song. On the other hand I found the album 'Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea' not so captivating, mainly due to the huge variety of styles between songs (very few of which included the mellow voice I associate and expect from PJ Harvey).
          This however is only useful if you know PJ Harvey's entire back catalogue, for everyone else, the album fits into the category 'Great Album'. I think this is because the one thing I want from one of her albums is there: just a voice and some simplistic accompaniment. This is music in which to relax to, that is if you ignore the massively overcomplicated lyrics...

          Lyrics / Subject Matter

          I understand that PJ Harvey's music has always had a message and a point, and for some people I'm sure that's great, but not for me. One track from this album specifically highlights my problem - 'The Words that Maketh Murder'. After a quick Google search I discovered that this song was about...
          ' the act of documenting the atrocities, bringing them to light. The concept of justice - like a war tribunal, that investigates "war crimes", judges them and calls them murder. Until this happens they are just acts committed in war, on the battlefield.'

          ...but honestly after listening to the song before and after this revelation, I still don't see how someone has got that. Maybe, if you read the lyrics like a GCSE English class read a poem, and extrapolate every sentence, but this is a song - it's meant to be heard, if there's a message it shouldn't be that hidden.
          Maybe I am the wrong person for these lyrics to really effect (there is strong evidence for this...) but I feel as if by writing meaningful lyrics in an attempt to be different, the overall message is lost and the song becomes generic and boring. Fortunately, generic and boring is brilliant when considering lyrics to a song you want to relax to, and that is what I suggest you do with 'Let England Shake'.

          Final Thoughts

          I think the one thing going for this album is that it's simple (musically, not lyrically) and the smooth voice of Harvey sounds great next to a peaceful instrumental track. If you're looking for an album to play while sunbathing this is perfect - it's relaxing. I'm not 100% sure this is intentional, but either way, I like the album and would happily recommend it to anyone who is tired of ever increasing mainstream music.

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          09.03.2011 16:06
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          PJ Harvey crafts her finest album yet!

          PJ Harvey - Let England Shake (2011)

          Producer: PJ Harvey, Mick Harvey, John Parish, Flood

          Let England Shake
          The Last Living Rose
          The Glorious Land
          The Words That Maketh Murder
          All and Everyone
          On Battleship Hill
          England
          In the Dark Places
          Bitter Branches
          Hanging in the Wire
          Written on the Forehead
          The Colour of the Earth

          Released in 2011, Let England Shake is the eighth album by British musician PJ Harvey. It's been four years since the last solo PJ Harvey album, White Chalk. That record saw the ever-changing Harvey release a slender eleven song set which clocked in at just over half an hour. Even more memorable was that she had ditched her guitar and the sexual exuberance which had once empowered her music and had instead, aesthetically, adopted a more ordinary singer-songwriter template, of the lady in the white dress, sitting down at her piano, telling us how cruel the world is to the beauty that is woman.

          The songs, however, were not ordinary. For such a brief affair, White Chalk practically smothered you, after drugging and date-raping you. Harvey - having assumed a banshee's wail which drove her higher register - literally dragged you down to the floor with her songs of death and disappointment and then proceeded to lay an anvil's weight worth of loss upon you. What should have been a walk in the park soon became her most underrated and difficult album to pin a label upon.

          And it is because of that I had real difficulty drawing the line between White Chalk and Let England Shake - most probably because there isn't one. Here, as usual, John Parish lends a hand in the studio, together with former Bad Seeds member, Mick Harvey. Even with the tried and tested formula of having the same backing roster, this three piece unit have cheated fate once more and emerged with a brand new sound. Each song brings with it a timeless melody and ethereal recitation of how many lives were lain to waste in yet another pointless bout of warfare. I have no interest in politics or military history - man cannot successfully govern himself, inspiring nothing but despondence in me - but it's hard to not get involved with the songs here. You will live them, you will breathe them, and you will be listening to them for years to come, surely.

          Even if the journey towards Let England Shake is hard to trace, the album itself is not so hard to brand as White Chalk. It's commonly known that the concept album is a tricky beast to tame but Harvey - together with aforementioned collaborators John Parish and Mick Harvey - have turned a masterful hand towards Let England Shake. The record does not become weighted down alongside its concept, instead it provides a brand new vehicle for PJ Harvey to drive her songs of dejection into our hearts, as with a stake.

          The Last Living Rose would make a terrific single from the album. The deliriously catchy saxophone bridge between the first and second verses is perfectly equalised by the crisp final verse and, ultimately, the deathly and sombre guitar which closes this brief silhouette of timeless Britain. "Let me walk through the stinking alleys, to the music of drunken beatings, past the Thames River glistening like gold, hastily sold for nothing." Despite the deep subject matter many of the songs would make fine singles. This is true of next song, The Glorious Land, in which Mick Harvey picks up vocals alongside PJ, for one of the most winning vocal combinations I am yet to come across. "How is our glorious country ploughed? Not by iron ploughs, our land is ploughed by tanks and feet marching."

          First single, The Words That Maketh Murder, provides a strange paradox against its chosen topic. "I saw a Corporal whose nerves were shot," calls Harvey, "flesh quivering in the heat!" The real genius sets in when the song is brought to a sardonic close by the Summertime Blues lyrics "I'm going to take my problems to the United Nations!" PJ and Mick Harvey revel in this volatile mixture of at once sympathy and a strange lack of compassion, repeating the aforesaid line many times with extreme joviality before the song is up.

          The trauma doesn't stop there, however. On Battleship Hill further cripples the hope that the album would soon provide respite, instead opting to relish the bitter taste of bloodshed once more. As PJ and Mick Harvey recount that "cruel nature has won again", piano notes begin to descend heavy upon the listener. Lyrically and vocally, this is a crushingly beautiful hymn.

          In the Dark Places does indeed inhabit dark places. "We... passed through the damned mountains... and some of us returned, and some of us did not." The melody slowly elevates itself until it looms over Harvey, before collapsing in on itself throughout the final third. The sedate guitar riffs begin to encroach upon your happy place, as driving rain upon an open, blood-soaked battlefield, before claiming another victory.

          Mick Harvey takes lead vocals on album closer, The Colour of the Earth. A poignant remembrance song for a fallen soldier, whose dear friend recollects how he ran forwards from the trench line and was never seen again. This is as a brutal reminder as any that war is never a justifiable solution, only a heartless endeavour. "Later in the dark," narrates Mick, "I thought I heard Louis' voice, calling for his mother, then me." A fitting close to Let England Shake - no matter the devoted wartime stories which soldiers bring home, it always ends in someone's death.

          This is one of the most unashamedly British albums you're ever likely to hear yet Let England Shake is also the warmest and most inviting album I have heard for some time. Through the medium of music, Harvey has crafted a more empathetic and soulful reminder of the personal cost of war than a billion media-stories have been able to, and in the current war-torn state the world finds itself in, it's more relevant than ever.

          Yes, PJ Harvey's determination to not repeat past achievements is a noble cause, all the more so when she wins a landslide victory in the shape of Let England Shake. With this, she is undoubtedly the most important female musician currently active in the industry.

          Lady Gaga aside, obviously.

          9.5/10

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        • Product Details

          Audio CD released 4 Feb 2011 at Universal - Disc #1 Tracklisting 1 Let England Shake 2 The Last Living Rose 3 The Glorious Land 4 The Words That Maketh Murder 5 All And Everyone 6 On Battleship Hill 7 England 8 In The Dark Places 9 Bitter Branches 10 Hanging In The Wire 11 Written On The Forehead 12 The Colour of The Earth