PJ Harvey finds herself anew on Let England Shake

Hey, PJ Harvey! Long time no see! Glad to have you back. Seriously, though. Let England Shake is Harvey’s first solo album since 2007’s White Chalk. Critics always discuss other singer/songwriters attempts to mimic Harvey’s sound, so it’s about time we can shut them (us?) up with Harvey herself. One thing is for sure, though. This is not the same Harvey from decades ago. No. This Harvey is making a stand with her impassioned record about distressing events surrounding her country and the world as a whole.

Let England Shake is louder and more rambunctious than previous Harvey albums. It’s a call to action of sorts, with Harvey’s cries nowhere near ready to fall on deaf ears. Harvey’s voice is still in its own league. It certainly continues to turn many off but its singularity can’t be ignored. Always willing to step outside the box, Harvey lets her voice do the talking. (In any other situation this would be a DUH. But in music, you never know. You know?) “England” (along with “Written On The Forehead, which can be heard below) is one of the stand-outs, with a Middle-Eastern vibe, which I guess would be surprising for another artist, considering the song is called “England,” but for Harvey anything is fair game.

I do miss the Harvey of old, but I no doubt appreciate and mostly enjoy the direction she’s taking on Let England Shake. I like that she’s breaking out of her usual shell, in turn becoming more of an outwardly empowering artist. However I can’t help but feel nostalgic for the old Harvey when listening to tracks like “Hanging In The Wire”, with the drifting vocals and steady piano. Really, though, that makes me a bit of a wimp, which is the opposite of what Harvey wants with this album. If you’re able to expand your Harvey horizons (sounds like a non-profit organization…), Let England Shake will hit you hard and fast. So hold on to your seat. Or your pillow.

PJ Harvey – “Written On The Forehead” [MP3]

Let England Shake is out now on Vagrant. Buy it.

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