PJ Harvey

PJ Harvey's album Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea
PJ Harvey, where to start with PJ Harvey? When I was budding music connoisseur I looked for new music through many different methods some of them being mainstream. One of my mainstream methods was MTV(this was back in the early nineties when MTV played music). I recall back then they played PJ Harvey quite often on the “alternative” shows. I’m gonna be honest here, I never thought much of her music. In her videos I always thought she looked like she was trying too hard. If it wasn’t for my wife reintroducing me to PJ Harvey a number of years later I would have never come to know her interesting quirky sound. I’ve read PJ Harvey’s sound is described as “alternative blues rock”. I really think it escapes such finite labels though. Sure one song may fit that but plenty of others don’t. It’s alternative rock with a dark vein running through it, a smidgen of punk allege on the side and a pop frog on top.

Polly Jean Harvey is from the small village of Corscombe in west Dorset, England. She grew up on her parent’s sheep farm in what some may consider idyllic British country side. Polly attributes some of her eclectic style to her parents introducing to a wide range of music as a child but I know the truth. Having grown up on a sheep farm myself I can truly identify with the trials and tribulations that come along with that life. The herding, the feeding, the shearing, not to mention the relentless bah’ing, does it ever end?!? Kidding aside Polly definitely has come at things in her own way. Through much of her teens she played the saxophone and dabbled with other instruments on the side (what 17 year old girls do you know have studied the sax for eight years?). Once she started playing in rock bands she switched primarily to the guitar for a while and if you listen to one of her albums now there’s no telling what instrument she’ll be playing. This non-centralized view follows through to her music itself, influences from all over can be heard, blues, jazz, classical and punk rock to name a few.

Originally the band PJ Harvey was a three piece with Polly on guitar and vocals, Rob Ellis on drums and Steve Vaughan on guitar. They released their first single in October 1991 with two albums to follow in the next two years, “Dry” and “Rid of Me”. Things seemed to be going well with a major buzz growing around the band but for some reason Ellis and Vaughan decided to depart in mid 1993. Not to be deterred Polly continued on as a solo act ever since. Truthfully to listen to the albums now it’s hard to tell when the two original members departed. Each album leaves such a different taste that they all stand on their own regardless. Which brings us to her albums themselves. My personal favorites are the first three. The fourth is alright, the fifth is really cool and I’m still forming an opinion on the 6th and 7th.

1) Dry [1992]
2) Rid of Me [1993]
3) To Bring You My Love [1995]
4) Is This Desire? [1998]
5) Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea [2000]
6) Uh Huh Her [2004]
7) White Chalk [2007]

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