PJ Harvey made a new album and I fucking love it. Now there are two options for you: You could save yourself some time and just obtain “Let England Shake” through some channel (I still favor CDs, my home insurance doesn’t cover iTunes in case of a fire ;)) or you can listen to me telling you how good it is for a while and then get it (should you choose to do neither, the evil creeperman will eat your soul some night soon).
I’ll try to be brief though. Harvey’s new album is weirdly intimate and soul gripping. Part may be the instrumentation which is very folky for someone who made her career on noisy guitar rock. Another aspect is her singing. Harvey sings in her highest key throughout the album, reinventing herself once more (She has ever been of the tribe of musical chameleons). Her voice echos hauntingly familiar, to use a somewhat overused but, in this case, apt expression. It’s almost like the memory of someone you think you might have known at some point and just can’t place until you realize you’ve known this person for a long time and she has just chosen to show you another facet of herself.
Harvey recorded the album in an old church somewhere in Dorset, England. Maybe one of the ways she got in touch with her country’s musical roots. Still, it’s not a nostalgic look back. There are too many reminiscences of war and carnage here. But then that is history, seen from the perspective of the angel of history.
Here is a short two-part interview Harvey did with the NMW: If one day I can talk about my own art in a somewhat similar manner, well, my efforts will not have been in vain.
Part two and some other stuff after the break.
Here are a few older pieces, showcasing some of the other skins Miss Polly Jean has chosen to wear throughout the years. I still remember the first time I heard “Rid of Me”. Still kicks like hell.
Then, of course, there’s this song:
One thing Polly Harvey was never afraid of is her femininity. That includes the rather apt put line “You leave me dry” to man who just couldn’t turn her on.