Artist of the week: PJ Harvey
Two times Mercury Prize winner (2001 and 2011) and member of the British Empire for services to music (2013), PJ Harvey is a singer-songwriter, poet and proficient musician in a wide range of instruments that has built a quite unique artistic career in the last three decades and whose popularity has managed to find a massive number of accolades in both sides in the Atlantic.
She began her career with an eponymous trio that spawned two hard-hitting rock albums, Dry (1992) and Rid of Me (1993), that defined the themes of sex, love and religion that she would keep exploring throughout her career with a mix of brutal honesty, dark humor and refined drama. The richer and bluesier To Bring You My Love followed in 1995 and marked the first collaboration between an array of musicians and producers that she would never cease to work with: John Parish, Rob Ellis and Flood. She would keep switching gears in the following years, releasing a startling series of records that kept surprising her fans: Is This Desire? (1998), Stories of the City, Stories of the Sea (2000), Uh-Huh Her (2004) and White Chalk (2007). Two collaborative albums with John Parish (1996’s Dance Hall at Louse Point and 2009’s A Woman a Man Walked By) also proved to be valuable additions to her discography, since each of them were followed by her most experimental and bold albums.
Five years after one of her most exquisite projects, Let England Shake, PJ Harvey is back with The Hope Six Demolition Project, another ambitious multimedia project with war photographer Seamus Murphy that is both the result of research made in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C and a public recording process available to audiences at London’s Somerset House. The result is unapologetically polemic, deeply moving and poetic and, perhaps most importantly, musically startling, raw and powerful. Make no mistake, she did it again.
João Pedro da Costa is a web studies scholar and a music fan.