It took me an interval of two years, a trip to the location mentioned in the album title and a bottle of whiskey to finally get through to "Let England Shake," PJ's latest Mercury-winning album. It reflected the dumbness that I have been incubating in the last few years as the collateral damage from self-protection, and it, ultimately, showcases PJ's ingenuity and superiority in the music industry after all the ups and downs in her 20-year-plus career.
While every entry in this project is as beautifully crafted as possible in hindsight, I have to admit my most die-hard love for "All and Everyone." Although continuing the anti-war theme acutely flowing in this album, it still manages to convey a sense of warmth, redemption and hope for this world with repeated mentioning of objects like sea and sun. Also, by pointing out the omnipotent presence of fighting and death, PJ, reluctantly but sensibly, justifies the universal role of war played throughout the history of mankind. Thus, the song is bestowed with both depth and scope that are to be extended with every listening effort.
For all those whose musical sense is not as keen as Mercury judges, or rather, as dumb as mine, I recommend a trip to England, or the Great Britain in a general sense (as I did), or Iceland and any north European country for their similar terrains and weather as a highly beneficial way to fully appreciate this album. If you think it's too much ado about a record, at least try Seamus Murphy's 12 short films, each of which serves as a semi-official music video for a song in the album. Reportedly starting from seeing Murphy's exhibition in London, PJ took an interest in Murphy's experiences, which led to their collaboration in the Let England Shake campaign.
After all those windy, rainy and misty days slash nights in the UK, I feel the literal turmoil of nature, as mimicked by human being in its cause of development. While PJ's lyrics remain highly visual and raw, her musical arrangement and vocal effects underline the nature from which we are all sprung and to which we long to end up as the final destination. By all this, the album becomes the perfect combination of life and death, human and nature.
That one overcast night just after sunset, I stood on a pier at Loch Lomond, still as the life preserver inches away. For a long time, there was only PJ's singing and endless ripples chasing the wind. Then, like shown in Murphy's video for "All and Everyone," a fishing boat slowly passed by, shortly followed by a seagull flashing across the last minute of daylight.
And then PJ sung, "the sky move, the ocean shimmer, the hedge shake, the last living rose quiver."
PJ is humbled by human nature. I am humbled by her.