Let England Shake

Studio Album by released in 2011
Let England Shake's tracklist:
Let England Shake
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The Last Living Rose
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The Glorious Land
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The Words That Maketh Murder
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All and Everyone
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On Battleship Hill
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England
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In the Dark Places
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Bitter Branches
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Hanging in the Wire
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Written on the Forehead
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The Colour of the Earth
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Let England Shake review

The most special album among Harvey’s special albums

Polly Jean Harvey, aka PJ Harvey, received Mercury Prize in 2010 for her Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea. Since then, a total of ten years have passed and this original rоck-singer has changed her music style on several occasions. Truly, stylistic transformation turned into the main principle of her creative approach. This is through the shift of the course that PJ Harvey still has the same motivation and keeps evolving as a musician and an author. Steadily releasing new CDs each two or three years, Harvey has never offered the audience anything similar to what had already been offered. Yet even on the background of her so much different efforts, the one she’s released most recently is going to be special. The full-length work called Let England Shake, brings surprise and even shock all over the place line none of its predecessors ever did. Even those who seem to know all the ropes of Harvey’s music and career could not imagine she would make anything like that. This album is totally unlike the rest of the singer’s discography. The material for Let England Shake was written for two and a half years with the biggest part of the penned stuff filtered and put aside to select only the best tracks for the set of the future CD. The recording of these songs, on the contrary, took particularly short time, about five weeks only. It was connected with the singer’s desire to record everything live. She did have reasons for all of it.

War songs against war

PJ Harvey dared to touch upon the very serious issue of war and made songs with everything, including the context, politically colored. Let England Shake’s title track expresses the artist’s idea of war. It is an ugly stigma we will never remove. The next piece, The Last Living Rose, pictures an old England unable to change the bloody course of its history, whose sons have since time immemorial sacrificed lives in numerous conflicts. It is followed by an ironically titled song, The Glorious Land, where Harvey accuses the leaders of her country of blind obedience to the State doctrines. The World That Maketh Murder features the singer admitting her helplessness as well as the helplessness of the whole world in putting an end to all armed conflicts. The set is concluded with the almost gothic The Colour Of The Earth, involving a men’s choir sounding like a herd of ghost of soldiers who never did come back. In fact, although the record is based on uneasy and touching lyrics, one will remember the emotional impact of the way these songs sound. The fusion of folk, that has always been seen as the middle class’s voice, and distinct rhythmic patterns, which emphasize the effect of pending doom, created a powerful acoustic weapon hitting the listener right into the heart.

Let England Shake is a must-listen record

As a conclusion, Let England Shake is a purely antiwar album that casts arrows of anger at the blood-thirsty politicians. It is not a new concept for rock music performers who have usually addressed this question. However, Harvey does it for the first time. Of course, her past albums contained elements of protest, disagreement, challenge and urge, but this is the first album where she expresses openly her negative attitude towards the foreign politics pursued by her country. We are used to more personal and less universal works by Harvey. And this time, she makes a bomb of a record that she throws right into the crowd of the UK’s political mistakes and war losses. To make this CD sound especially acute and natural, she made it live-recorded and left behind the ghost-like and mystique voice of hers that haunted, for example, White Chalk, one of her best efforts ever. But she does not ignite an open confrontation against the government. She rather plays a part of an ordinary person who watches terrible events and can do nothing about it. The war on Let England Shake is monstrous in its essence and defaces everything around it. On Battleship Hill gives a description of nature that contains truly scary images. All these nuances make PJ Harvey’s new album a record worthy of the audience’s obligatory listening and praiseful critical reviews.

Alex Bartholomew (17.02.2011)
Rate review4.79
Total votes - 72