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PJ Harvey: Let England Shake  


With Let England Shake, Polly Jean Harvey revels in narrative songwriting once again, tackling British folklore and even incorporating a subtle Brit-folk sound into the album. What's unexpected is how spritely her voice comes across on these 12 understated numbers. Only Harvey could conjure such a song title as "The Words That Maketh Murder." But the girlish sound of her voice reaffirms that the once-fiery songstress's demons have been exorcized - mostly. A muted jangle gives "On Battleship Hill" and "Written on the Forehead" a sense of unrequited tension that rolls along but never takes off. It's easy on the ears, but teeters between a lingering, graceful sound and a dull plod. Let England Shake is a sparse and nimble album that's charming to the end, but one that's tailored to suit the refined Harvey listener. (3 out of 5 stars)

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