PJ Harvey: Let England Shake (Universal)

Let all of England shake, but all hail the return of Queen Polly Jean Harvey. 2007’s White Chalk saw PJ creeping across personal interior-scapes and England’s psycho-geographies like an anchorless siren. For her latest, she shakes, rattles and rolls across England’s World War history like an off-kilter ministering priestess singing about death, war and other such merry things. But there are no typical patriot songs, bar sing-alongs or folk hymns; instead, it is PJ drafting her earlier forms of guitar rock in new ways.

Text Christopher Ujine Ong

Hence, the seemingly misplaced trumpet reveille in ‘The Glorious Land’, the snaked-in wails and strings from Said El Kurdi’s ‘Kassem Miro’ into ‘England’ and a sampled vocal off Niney the Observer’s ‘Blood & Fire’ on ‘Written On The Forehead’ with the reggae singer’s voice inserted at 1st, then interplayed with PJ, Mick Harvey and John Parrish’s voices, singing almost cheerily, “Let it burn”. Resonant, hazy, dreamy: this is PJ’s indomitable musical and conceptual vision of England.

LISTEN TO: ‘Written On The Forehead’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Grinderman, Cat Power, Tori Amos

England’s shaking at www.pjharvey.net.