Heather Phares: PJ Harvey followed her ghostly collection of ballads, White Chalk, with PJ Harvey – Let England Shake, a set of songs strikingly different from what came before it except in its Englishness. White Chalk’s haunted piano ballads seemed to emanate from an isolated manse on a moor, but here Harvey chronicles her relationship with her homeland through songs revolving around war. Throughout the album, she subverts the concept of the anthem — a love song to one’s country — exploring the forces that shape nations and people. This isn’t the first time Harvey has been inspired by a place, or even by England: she sang the praises of New York City and her home county of Dorset on Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. Harvey recorded this album in Dorset, so the setting couldn’t be more personal, or more English. Yet she and her longtime collaborators John Parish, Mick Harvey, and Flood travel to the Turkish battleground of Gallipoli for several of Let England Shake’s songs, touching on the disastrous World War I naval strike that left more than 30,000 English soldiers dead. Her musical allusions are just as fascinating and pointed: the title track sets seemingly cavalier lyrics like “Let’s head out to the fountain of death and splash about” to a xylophone melody borrowed from the Four Lads’ “Istanbul (Not Constantinople),” …. In its own way, Let England Shake may be even more singular and unsettling than White Chalk was, and its complexities make it one of Harvey’s most cleverly crafted works.

 

Tracklist PJ Harvey – Let England Shake 

00:00 1 – Let England Shake
03:06 2 – The Last Living Rose
05:26 3 – The Glorious Land
09:00 4 – The Words That Maketh Murder
12:41 5 – All and Everyone
18:22 6 – On Battleship Hill
22:29 7 – England
25:35 8 – In The Dark Places
28:32 9 – Bitter Branches
30:56 10 – Hanging In The Wire
33:36 11 – Written On The Forehead
37:14 12 – The Colour Of The Earth
39:47 13 – The Nightingale
44:01 14 – The Big Guns Called Me Back Again

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

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