Artist: PJ Jarvey
Album: Let England Shake
It’s been four years since the last solo PJ Harvey album, but only two years since her fantastic collaboration with John Parish. The most helpful point of refernce that can be given for Let England Shake would have to be 2007’s White Chalk; there is more instrumentation on this album, but it still predominatley features Harvey’s falcetto and minimalist production. Though featuring a horn section for the first time (“The Last Living Rose”) and the reimergiane of guitars and percussion, the production sounds thin and whispy.
As she did on White Chalk, Harvey discovers an instrument and runs with it; in this case, the autoharp. It’s not an unwelcome addition, but those wanting or expecting big guitars will be disappointed. The majority of the songs are politcal in nature and are imbued with an old-english folk vibe (“On Battleship Hill,” “The Colour of the Earth”) and a few even feature John Parish on vocals.
None of that makes Let England Shake a bad album, but none of it makes it a great one either. There is something deeply impersonal running through it, and the production leaves a coldish feeling. There are good songs on this album, but there are also poor ones and noting that stands out as great. Casual fans might do better with sticking to 2009’s A Woman, A man Walked By