Much-acclaimed British singer-songwriter Polly Jean Harvey returns with her eighth solo-album.
Polly Harvey’s songwriting has always been focused around her imaginative, often poetic lyrical abilities. This time around, however, Harvey seems to be writing on a grander scale. On Let England Shake she crafts songs around of cast of characters that span a decade of history, using the battles of Gallipoli during the First World War as a repeated touchstone.
Here Harvey - joined by regular contributors John Parish and Mick Harvey - uses her talents as a musician and a variety of production tricks to fully emphasis the themes of war and nationality that run throughout the album.
She combines a variety of different guitar sounds, and her newly found penchant for the autoharp, to draw upon a whole history of classic protest music. Across the album Harvey sonically touches upon the political folk of Woodie Guthrie and Bob Dylan, the literate punk of The Clash and Elvis Costello, roots reggae and the anti-establishment artiness of Captain Beefheart and The Velvet Underground.
In production terms, Let England Shake is full of little touches used to emphasise the military themes of her writing. She fleshes out tracks with marching drum patterns, regal-sounding horn sections and - on The Glorious Land - out of sync bugle calls.
Let England Shake is likely to be held up among the pinnacles of PJ Harvey’s already impressive career.