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A post from Guy: Polly

It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and I will admit that I don’t ‘get’ all her albums. Some of them are a bit too musically difficult to penetrate for me (yep, and I don’t mind saying that), and I lean towards the ‘softer’, more acessible songs. I love Stories From The City Stories From The Sea, which is mesmerising. But her latest album is better than even that. Summing it up as a ‘concept album about a very English view of war’ is hardly going to prick some people’s ears up, but it’s a beautiful whole, and the time invested in it is worth the wait in my opinion.

There’s not really a weak song on it, but my favourite is probably Let England Shake.



There’s something very British about it, its subject thrown right across the battles in the past, not just recent ones, that are fresher in the memory, and easier to grab attention, but back to the First and Second World Wars, and it was a subject I was fascinated in (in a macabre way as much as anything) when I was a kid. I’ve met as many people that like it as don’t, die-heard PJ fans included, but I think it’s a worthy Mercury winner. There’s something vital about a record that is about such an emotive subject, and also seeks to cast back into history rather than just pitch for Iraq or Afghanistan.

I’d be really interested to hear what people think of it.

3 thoughts on “A post from Guy: Polly

  1. Oh, it’s an amazing record. Couldn’t agree more. I’m embarrassingly late to Polly Jean. My wife’s a massive fan, but although I’ve always liked what I’ve heard, I never actually bought an album of my own until White Chalk, which I loved. Also really liked the next album she did with John Parish, though it was patchy. But this is a real masterpiece. And it manages, like you say, to be about something without being preachy. I love the air of melancholy that hangs around the whole thing. It’s properly haunting.

  2. I agree with most that Brothers David and Guy have said here. I too was late to Polly. The same point as David, White Chalk. I love the John Parish stuff. Let England Shake is gut wrenchingly phenomenal. If you want to let people know what an ‘album’ is then this is it. Usually my album of the year is a toss between 5. No album came close to this for me.For me it is about pride/shame. Beauty/Horror. We saw her live (the one gig in 2011, thanks Silvia!) a few months ago and I was literally jaw dropped. Her voice is every bit as stunning live than recorded and the band were incredible. Even the tracks with the unusual samples worked really really well. I can’t say enough good things about this record. I would have her babies without a question.

  3. Excellent. I really got into her late too, musically, despite knowing her way back in the 90s and really not ‘getting’ her then. I was put onto her a few years back by an ex, and gave 4 of her albums a go. There were bits of ‘Uh Huh Her’ and ‘ A Woman A Man Walked By’ that I liked, but Stories just hit me and I loved it from the beginning. It obviously won the Mercury too, though it’s an album she’s sort of disowned since then, as it was her most commercial. The way she wields her voice as an instrument, not to mention an array of more traditional English ones on Let England Shake means it’s more than just a means of getting the words out, it’s a formidable part of her armory. As for this album, it feels really important, as much a chronicle of war, with some pretty visceral lyrics and imagery. I like that it doesn’t shy away from the brutality of war, and it’s probably one of those reasons that I love it more every listen. It’s like a modern evocation of Wilfred Owen or Siegfried Sassoon, and just as powerful as any documentary or report from Iraq. I’m well aware that I’m never going to grow to love all of PJ’s music, but in terms of an album that just leaps out and grabs you by the throat, this is one.

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