In this day and age when we have pop stars coming out of alien eggs at awards shows, it is nice to know that there are grounded artists that have a message to say and that know how to say their message in an artistic manner. Such is the case with Polly Harvey, better known as PJ Harvey. With the release of her eighth studio album, PJ Harvey reminds us that minimalistic is still possible.
Let England Shake is pretty much what I expected, a breath of fresh air. Gauging from my previous reviews, you can guess that I am a Metal guy. I pretty much listen to any genre of music out there, but I am more of an artist person that a genre person. My tendencies reach towards the Metal and Classic Rock. Since there are not too many Classic Rock (hence the name) releases these days, most of my reviews have been about Metal releases. Here is one of my most anticipated releases of 2011 though.
You can feel the energy listening to Let England Shake. Each track is crafted thoughtfully and they interweave into each other nicely. Yes, this is a concept album. The lyrics are heavy and deep – they are actually quite bloody. The passion in the lyrics show through into into the music. Each song is so powerful that you can see yourself sitting back enjoying your beverage of choice with your eyes closed and envisioning the world that PJ is singing about. My only beef with the album is that the lyrics are about a war-filled England, and let’s face it, England has not had this type of environment since the 50s. Outside of that, listening to the lyrics is surely one of the strengths of this album. Just take the line “England, You leave a taste. A bitter one”. That is an example of a lot of what she talks about the throughout the entire album.
PJ Harvey has always been very versatile with a great vocal range and Let England Shake is no different. Her voice seamlessly switches from Patty Smith influences tones to folk styles to pop without missing a beat.
Here is a little blurb that PJ Harvey says about the album:
“We played most of the music live,” Harvey said of the album, part-recorded in a church in Dorset. “I didn’t set down any rules. For some reason, we were all in a very good place, with a lot of energy, intensity and vitality in us at that time. It was a really enjoyable experience and I think the record’s ended up full of energy and quite an uplifting experience because of it.”
These days, you rarely see bands recording live. That is definitely a thing of the past. With the release of computer software recording techniques, a lot of bands have chosen to record in different countries even. Little stories like these add some charm to the album.