It’s been two and a half years since PJ Harvey’s last album, the angry, antiwar Let England Shake. Saturday, she released a new song, “Shaker Aamer,” an angry, despairing tribute to the last British resident still held captive at Guantanamo Bay. A 46-year-old citizen of Saudi Arabia with a wife and four children living in London, Shaker Aamer was arrested in November 2001 and sent to the detention camp in Cuba three months later; he’s been there ever since, despite never having been charged with a crime, and having been cleared for release by the Bush administration in 2007, and then again by the Obama administration two years later.
The lyrics describe Aamer’s feelings at the end of a four-month hunger strike: “I can’t think straight, I write, then stop/ Your friend Shaker Aamer. Lost.” The song can be heard at the website of the British newspaper The Guardian, at Soundcloud, on Harvey’s website, and below. Harvey’s site has also published a statement by Aamer’s lawyer Cliuve Stafford Smith which reads, “PJ Harvey has written a wonderful song—I know Shaker will be deeply moved by it—and I only hope that, with the support of the public, he will one day be able to listen to it in freedom.”