After her historic 2nd Mercury Music Prize win (and 4th Nomination) we felt it was high time to celebrate the genius of PJ Harvey, probably one the most singular musical talents the UK has ever produced and certainly one of the most fearless and constantly evolving artists working in music today.
Beginning her solo career with the raw, lo-fi punk of 1992′s “Dry”, the Bridport, Dorset Singer has constantly sought to push her music into new and interesting directions. “Dry” was followed by the following year by the Steve Albini produced “Rid of Me” one of the most savagely dark and primal records of the 90s garnering her a first nomination for the Mercury Prize .
The follow up record, 1995′s “To Bring You My Love” very clearly showcased the gothic noire influence of Nick Cave (Whom she was dating at the time), combining this with a dirty, blues inflected style for what many consider to be her most accomplished record to date and which was also shortlisted by the Mercury panel
The prevailing UK musical trend towards the late 90s was trip hop and PJ Harvey followed her appearance on Tricky’s “Angels With Dirty Faces” with a record very much enthrall to that sound; largely sacrificing the vitriol and bite of her previous releases in favour of a more introverted and electronic sound.
2001′s “Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea” (recorded in New York and in her native Dorset) saw her go back to basics and was, in a way, to prove strangely prophetic as the 70s New York Punk sound which so heavily characterises the record would be popularised by the likes of the Strokes a few months later and go on to be the dominant sound of the early 00s. “Stories…” proved a huge commercial and critical success as it topped the sales of any of her previous albums and also finally won her the first of her Mercury Music Prizes in what was a very sombre ceremony following the events of 9/11
“Uh-Huh-Her” followed in a similar but rawer and more bluesy vein in 2004 before Polly confounded expectations yet again by learning to play the piano in order to compose and perform the eerie, melancholic “White Chalk” in 2007.
Which brings us to her latest opus, the Auto-harp fronted, folk influenced anti-war statement “Let England Shake”, a deserved winner of the Mercury Prize and yet another example of one of rock’s great chameleons re-inventing herself and confirming her enduring relevance even two decades after her debut.