This is meant to be PJ Harvey's war album and the lyrics, music and feel give you no doubt that Polly Jean Harvey has put a lot of effort into this. There are 12 tracks of short doses of lyrical and musical feats centring around that theme and and the theme of England. Guitars and a very strong percussion accompany the different forms of Harveys voice to give a driven feel throughout. Sometimes she sounds almost operatic and others just angry - sometimes in the same song. The overall effect of this is quite dizzying and it takes a while to appreciate the scope of this album. Tracks like Bitter Branches and Last Living Rose are immediate whilst other take their time to appeal. But they get there. Even when the bugle of The Glorious Land comes in you are a little taken aback at first - but it makes sense with the lyrics. And the lyrics need mentioning. They are quite brilliant - descriptive and concise they are the focus of this album. This album will be up there at the end of the year - already nominated for a Mercury. And it deserves to be.
In the 80's every new female artist was compared to Kate Bush. Now the likes of Anna Calvi et al are compared to PJ Harvey. That should be a measure of her current standing. This offering only cements her place. 'I live and die through England' PJ Harvey declares at the start of her acoustic ode to her mother country. Listening to this you know she believes that in her soul. Heartfelt and meaningful this is a very accomplished album. It also is that rare thing - an album put together by someone who believes every word she sings.