Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Feb 1st 2011 9:30AM by Rebecca Laurence
Back in the Spring of 2010, when PJ Harvey performed the title track to 'Let England Shake' on the BBC's 'The Andrew Marr Show' in front of the prime minister of the time, Gordon Brown, the pertinence of some of the lyrics made for thrilling, if slightly uncomfortable viewing. "Weighted down with silent dead/England's dancing days are done" she sang while the PM looked on.
Over the course of two decades, Harvey has often created raw, emotional imagery in her lyrics but her latest album is the first obvious exploration of more political territory -- her home country and its ongoing relationship with war.
Speaking to Spinner ahead of the release of 'Let England Shake', Harvey describes the intensive process of anchoring down the words in advance of recording. "That's becoming the main focus of my creativity - the writing of words. The music comes at a much later stage. For writing this album 'Let England Shake' again I only concentrated on words for about two years and I knew that to be dealing with such weighty subject matter it needed to work at that very root level or it was going to fall apart completely."
'Let England Shake' is awash with brutal scenes of war where 'soldiers fall like lumps of meat' (on first single, 'Words That Maketh Murder'). On 'Our Glorious Land', Harvey sings of a country "marked by tanks and feet marching," but she stresses that these songs were to be universal rather than specific.
"Some of the songs are taking a look at England and the attraction and repulsion that one feels with one's nation, and disappointments as well as love, a rootedness in it," she tells Spinner. "But although I'm singing as an Englishwoman in England, I wanted to find language that was also connecting with wherever you live."
The resulting piece of work is astonishingly moving and visceral without ever treading into 'protest song' territory, as the lyrics address the personal perspective of war.
"No matter where you are people suffer great disapointments in what their governments are doing, or what wars are being waged in their name."
Watch the full video interview here: