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Let England Shake — a Bouquet of Barbed Wire from P.J. Harvey

Polly Jean Harvey returns and sounds positively (Kate) Bush–whacked on her eighth and most commercial album since Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea. From the nursery-rhyme chant of the title track, it rarely makes a sharpened stiletto misstep.

Despite its English themes, musically the collection takes in the world; the African rhythm of “Written on the Forehead” (which samples Niney the Observer’s reggae classic “Blood and Fire”). “The Glorious Land” is a dour goth-rocker with a cavalry bugle overture. “On Battleship Hill,” features a Spanish guitar and a piano riff that ripples all the way to the Costa del Sol. On “The Last Living Rose” and “In the Dark Places,” Polly steps up for sax duties. The whining vocal intro of “England” is annoying, but fast becomes a harrowing, ethereal tearjerker.

Throughout the record, Harvey’s words hark back to the subject of war and the fate of those who do the fighting and suffering. It’s not so much a protest record as an attempt to put humanity back to the forefront — an open love letter to her countrymen and women.

With long-time collaborators John Parish, Mick Harvey, and Flood, Harvey’s produced a work that is bloody, bruised, and brooding. She has never needed or craved commercial success, but this is the record most likely to see the general public embrace her bouquet of barbed wire.

Album: Let England Shake (2011)
Artist: P.J. Harvey
Label: Vagrant
Songs: (1) Let England Shake (2) The Last Living Rose (3) The Glorious Land (4) The Words That Maketh Murder (5) All & Everyone (6) On Battleship Hill (7) England (8) In the Dark Places (9) Bitter Branches (10) Hanging in the Wire (11) Written on the Forehead (12) The Colour of the Earth

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Polly Jean Harvey returns and sounds positively (Kate) Bush–whacked on her eighth and most commercial album since Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea. From the nursery-rhyme chant of the title track, it rarely makes a sharpened stiletto misstep.

Despite its English themes, musically the collection takes in the world; the African rhythm of “Written on the Forehead” (which samples Niney the Observer’s reggae classic “Blood and Fire”). “The Glorious Land” is a dour goth-rocker with a cavalry bugle overture. “On Battleship Hill,” features a Spanish guitar and a piano riff that ripples all the way to the Costa del Sol. On “The Last Living Rose” and “In the Dark Places,” Polly steps up for sax duties. The whining vocal intro of “England” is annoying, but fast becomes a harrowing, ethereal tearjerker.

Throughout the record, Harvey’s words hark back to the subject of war and the fate of those who do the fighting and suffering. It’s not so much a protest record as an attempt to put humanity back to the forefront — an open love letter to her countrymen and women.

With long-time collaborators John Parish, Mick Harvey, and Flood, Harvey’s produced a work that is bloody, bruised, and brooding. She has never needed or craved commercial success, but this is the record most likely to see the general public embrace her bouquet of barbed wire.

Album: Let England Shake (2011)
Artist: P.J. Harvey
Label: Vagrant
Songs: (1) Let England Shake (2) The Last Living Rose (3) The Glorious Land (4) The Words That Maketh Murder (5) All & Everyone (6) On Battleship Hill (7) England (8) In the Dark Places (9) Bitter Branches (10) Hanging in the Wire (11) Written on the Forehead (12) The Colour of the Earth

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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