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PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

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I've seen almost every contemporary musician who means a great deal to me in concert except for PJ Harvey, so I'm really hoping she supports this new album with a loud, rocking tour. The opportunity to stand just a few feet away from her and her guitar is the only "cost is no object" item on my to-do list, which is good because Joanna and I will probably have to drive to Atlanta to make it happen.

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Looks like it might be titled Let England Shake.

Pitchfork reports that an official announcement is coming next week.

Yep-- Let England Shake is out in February!

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I've seen almost every contemporary musician who means a great deal to me in concert except for PJ Harvey, so I'm really hoping she supports this new album with a loud, rocking tour. The opportunity to stand just a few feet away from her and her guitar is the only "cost is no object" item on my to-do list, which is good because Joanna and I will probably have to drive to Atlanta to make it happen.

It really is worth it. I hope you get the chance too. The tour for To Bring You My Love was a circus, and when she opened for U2 promoting Uh Huh Her, she kicked ass and went home the victor having faced an arena full of jeering, disrespectful, obscenity-spewing U2 fans. It was as awe-inspiring (to see her fight back) as it was depressing (to see how bone-headed and vile the crowd could be).

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Not sure that I'm crazy about the vocal at this point, but I love the use of samples!

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Will Hermes just tweeted this:

Listening to new PJ Harvey last night while driving home from McCartney show: A dark, trippy record about British Empire. #OddlyFitting

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I have been hitting repeat for Written On the Forehead. I would have never anticipated PJ sampling Niney the Observer.

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In particular, when the drums kick in when she sings 'let me walk through the stinking alleys' - ohhhhhh YEAH! It's almost got a samba beat to it. Oh me, oh my!

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As an album, dense with allusion and knowledge, constructed with a meticulous thematic unity which extends across both sound and content, and performed with a vigour and passion which belies any suspicions of academic detachment, it’s an unqualified success; a marker for major British records in 2011.

Strong words. I can't wait.

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Heard the album today. John Mulvey is right.

I somewhat regret my decision to count The Long Surrender as a 2011 release; if I'd put it on last year's list, I could go ahead and say something really audacious about THIS album... like, say,

ALBUM OF THE YEAR!!

:)

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It took me 10 years to love Is This Desire.

Your patience amazes me. I gave up over one month!

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The New Yorker's Sasha Frere-Jones on PJ Harvey.

"Let England Shake” is an improvement over “White Chalk,” but that set a low bar. The sympathetic listener, opening his eyes and ears entirely to the new album, finds a wild, erratic hybrid that is promising, if only because someone has mostly dragged Harvey away from the piano. Her team is small but stellar: John Parish, a musician she has worked with for years, and the brilliant multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey, one of Nick Cave’s collaborators. But the album’s mood is impossible to characterize, because there are so many voices and attempts to find a comfortable position.

...

Harvey is allowed to change, and to chase any muse she wants. Why she chose England and a new working method—writing only words, without music, for close to two years—is not entirely clear. “On Battleship Hill” is a gentle shuffle with acoustic guitars high in the mix, an appropriate setting for a pastoral number. But Harvey sings in her highest register, which is not a lovely sound; nor is it a dramatic match for her chest voice. The “scent of thyme” is on the wind (thyme is sometimes a symbol for courage), and “nature has won again.” A contrast is being established here—there are “caved-in trenches,” and we are now eighty years past an event. (Let’s guess it was Gallipoli.) The good news is that “the land returns to how it’s always been” and “cruel nature” is a bigger bully than war. This idea is both rich and in line with her songbook, which often returns to the odds on size and combatants, usually in matters of love. There’s no reason she can’t transfer that perspective to war, but Harvey hasn’t generally been much for poetics when she can use her guts, in every sense. Here, she’s up in the attic knitting and looking down, which is an odd place for an artist who used to be in the trenches.

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I'm glad to see that I'm not totally alone in disliking White Chalk. I haven't listened to the new album yet. Is much of it sung in what SF-J calls "her highest register"?

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... I could go ahead and say something really audacious about THIS album... like, say,

ALBUM OF THE YEAR!!

With albums from Sam Phillips, St. Vincent, Bruce Cockburn, Over the Rhine, Radiohead, David Bazan, Joe Henry, Leonard Cohen, and many, many more of my favorites likely to release new albums this year, I have no desire to say any such thing about an album so early in the year, even if it blows me away. But I'm happy that you like what you're hearing. :)

Edited by Overstreet

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