PJ Harvey Let England Shake

PJ Harvey Let England Shake
Polly Jean Harvey has made a career out of keeping people guessing. From one album to the next, she has made a habit of reinventing herself, without ever sacrificing her artistic vision. With album number eight, she's not only made her finest album since 2001's Mercury Prize-winning Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, but also arguably her best ever. Let England Shake finds Harvey eschewing her internal ruminations and renovating her songwriting style to look externally at England's history of war. Referencing the 1915 invasion of Gallipoli a handful of times, Harvey's lyrics are a bloody, brutal depiction of battlegrounds, with men as busted meat, losing limbs. Using an ambivalent tone, she detaches herself from the narrative and lets her voice flutter between deep, emotive bellowing and childlike falsettos while calling on collaborators Mick Harvey and John Parish to occasionally take command. Musically, she's also testing the waters more than ever before, peppering in autoharp, zither and saxophone amongst samples of Iraqi female singers, military bugles and Niney the Observer's reggae classic, "Blood and Fire." The concept might seem like a hard one to swallow, but Harvey has laced her theme of conflict with beguiling melodies, reminding us she's the rarest of artists: one who can still make her most challenging work 20 years into a career without alienating the audience. (Vagrant/Island)