On February 14th 2011, some nineteen days after the protests kicked off in Tahrir Square, an album that couldn’t be more befitting was released. PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake could well be called ‘Let Egypt Shake’.

For twenty years, Polly Jean Harvey’s musical career has sat comfortably in that vacuum above consistent critical success and below major stardom. A suitable number of fruitless nominations, including five Grammy disappointments, have spared her from the revelry of topping charts. This is all irrelevant to the foremost woman of rock, though. The unsubtle but smooth leaps between musical styles have made her one of the most versatile and longstanding British artists of her generation, and indeed subsequent generations. This latest leap, the first for four years, is a much more intellectual one than the usual stylistic one.

Having apparently studied the history and present of British wars like a method actor, she has deconstructed the idea of war to its most simple elements; conflict, death and pride; not unlike the protests of Tahrir. There’s nothing subtle about the album’s lyrics, either. They read like poetry, which often turns into campfire chants fuelled by the civility of humanity that is caught in the tangle of politics, never losing the intellectuality in which each context was formed. Not unlike the protesters of Tahrir.

What makes this record defiantly unique is that its stories aren’t told from a privileged perspective, but from the front-line infantry and from the trenches. For example, she sings not to or of politicians, but of Louis in 'The Colour of the Earth': 'Louis was my dearest friend/Fighting in the ANZAC trench/Louis ran forward from the line/I never saw him again.'

Or to Bobby in the title track, 'England's dancing days are done/ Another day, Bobby, for you to come home/ And tell me indifference won.' These words are all served on an earthy but sophisticated acoustic platter that is a sombrely perfect fit, which borders on rock and folk with just a little bit of PJ Harvey experimental flair.

Having turned 41 last October, it is obvious that she has gained a very literal political voice, nothing short of a Bob Dylan or Joan Baez. The problem with her predecessors is that they quite often verged on the cusp of preaching, a problem that even she has not escaped. It’s one thing for a song to carry a political message, and another to be a war song to the bone. Such issues are hard enough to verbalise; let alone put to verse in the 21st century.

The message isn’t necessarily anti-anything as it is pro-life. Harvey hasn’t concerned herself with the reasons of war; but with the always humbling consequences of it. So although there are moments that hover closely to pretension, Let England Shake delivers its message, its music and its poetry poignantly and triumphantly. Not unlike the protesters of Tahrir.