LET ENGLAND SHAKE
Being a PJ Harvey fan means accepting that she’ll never make the same album twice. If you’re waiting for her to growl about a “50Ft Queenie” and rock out like it’s 1993, it ain’t gonna happen, my friend. The British singer/songwriter is 41 and not interested in indulging your sentimentality.
On her latest disc, Let England Shake, Polly Jean imagines herself at the scene of historic battles, describing the carnage around her with the vivid detail of a war reporter. She’s singing in a higher, quavering register now; folk instruments and various sound effects mark the musical backdrop as the songs quietly emerge.
It’s an interesting exercise. But the album lacks the visceral power that is her trademark. It’s hard not to feel something’s missing when you know she’s capable of glorious, full-throated howls (1995’s To Bring You My Love) and writing simple and direct songs of astonishing beauty (2000’s Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea).
While it’s easy to admire PJ Harvey’s artistic growth in recent years, it’s often tough to love the end results.
[Review appears in February 24th issue of prairie dog.]
Well, my lovely readers… what do you think? Are you loving PJ’s latest experiment? Or have you already deleted it from your iPod? I’d love to hear your feedback on this one.