Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Let England Shake

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Let England Shake

Article excerpt

LET ENGLAND SHAKE

P.J. Harvey (Vagrant Records, 2011)

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

England's reputation as an island of eccentrics is longstanding, and for the past two decades P.J. Harvey has done her bit to uphold it. Polly Jean comes by it naturally, having been raised on a sheep farm by hippie artist parents who exposed her to the weirdest man in rock and roll, Harvey's childhood hero, Captain Beefheart. She emerged in the early '90s, displaying a gift for bizarre hairdos and costumes, a constantly re-invented musical style, and--to me--utterly inscrutable lyrics.

But on Let England Shake, Harvey's quintessential Englishness comes to bear on an explicit, overt, and intelligible lyric theme. The album is a reflection on British history and identity as seen from the low watermark of the Blair 2000s. Blair's bloody follies in Iraq and Afghanistan are unmistakable in songs such as "The Words That Maketh Murder" about "soldiers falling like bits of meat" or another about a "Glorious Land" that's "ploughed by tanks and . …

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