If you’re not familiar with the band PJ Harvey, or the main band member, Polly Jean Harvey, you’re in for a treat, especially if you get the opportunity to see them/her live.
She’s a five-foot-nothing English women who sounds like she’s raping her Stratocaster, and sings like a group of banshees from hell. The last version of the Rolling Stone Record Guide (2004) stated, ”If you look for sunniness in your pop music, she may actually scare you.”
Most music critics believe three of her 10 albums are masterpieces. I personally think only two qualify. Rid of Me is too icy and brittle for my taste; it sounds like fingernails on the chalkboard. And if that’s your thing, by all means buy that one first. Many people think its greatness is in its starkness.
But there are two of her albums that are absolutely wonderful in their differences.
To Bring Me Your Love is her slowest and most beautifully frightening album, with bluesy songs that have lyrics that will give you nightmares if you pay attention to the words, and maybe even if you don’t. “Down by the Water” is about a woman basically aborting her live child in the river once it’s reached term.
Her other masterpiece, Songs from the City, Songs from the Sea, is a more upbeat album with a lovely collection of songs written about her trip to New York City, and about her small British island home. They’re all gorgeous tunes with a lot of her life written into the lyrics. Great stuff not to be missed.