Thu 21st Apr, 2011 in Features
Almost twelve months ago Polly Jean Harvey stood on a BBC soundstage swathed in black feathers, autoharp in hand, performing the title song from her new album, Let England Shake.
This haunting appearance on UK current affairs program The Andrew Marr Show was significant not only because it was the first glimpse fans had been given of Harvey’s latest musical transformation, but, in a moment that seems eerily coincidental in retrospect, she was watched by Marr and his special guest Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Three weeks later Brown would be kicked out of office, no doubt with Harvey’s lyrics “The West’s asleep. Let England shake. Weighted down with silent dead” ringing in his ears.
There couldn’t have been a greater introduction to Harvey’s latest record, which at its very core is an effecting observation of her homeland, humanity and war. It is an album on which Harvey has reinvented herself once again, showing off a new voice, dark extrospective prose tangled with lush melodies and a new found love for the autoharp.
When I reach Polly she sounds content and, in her unnervingly polite West Country accent, talks with much passion about her latest album. A record, which may well be her most defining piece of work yet.
Congratulations on finally having the album out – how does it feel to be handing it over to the world after such a long gestation period?
Oh it it’s a wonderful feeling actually, it’s almost a feeling of relief that I can finally let it go. Also because it took such a lot of preparation not only in terms of writing and creating it in the first place, but in terms of the way it was presented, all the artwork, and then setting up the dates we were going to play live, it was an enormous amount of work. So when it has actually gone out to the world then it just starts its own life really, its journey, its out of your hands and it’s a good feeling really