Hit or Miss: PJ Harvey

For nearly twenty years, Dorset-bred, PJ Harvey, has been a monstrous force within the alternative rock scene. She has reinvented herself countless times without losing her grounding force of rock and has an outstanding dynamic stage presence separate from her actual coy personality.

In February 2011, Harvey released her conceptual project Let England Shake to much critical acclaim. She’s a known favorite on the   Pitchfork website, as they  have named the album No. 4 on their list of 2011 Albums of the Year.

The critics recognize the difference between Harvey’s previous album and Let England and its calmer styling. Magazine praised its ‘ethereal’ sound and ‘remarkable lyrics, mentioning the ‘subtle production’ Mick Harvey contributes alongside John Parish.

Harvey’s genius in working with those she has experience with, thus never destroying her formula yet still remaining fresh and new in energy and sound.

Let England Shake is polished in lush beautiful production with Harvey providing a new vocal styling and an interest in the autoharp. As theatrical as the album is, it seems appropriate that a DVD would prove as an outstanding addition to the project.

The DVD, directed by Seamus Murphy, are short films based on atmospheric landscapes in England. The music combined with the visual work carefully to convey the messages of Harvey’s lyrics. Songs such as “England” are soothing and rich while still pertaining to the message at hand.

Harvey is known for her rock-driven soft numbers and this project does not fail to deliver. Her innovation has made her one of the leaders among the creative visionaries in mainstream music. While she has not been celebrated commercially, this album continues her sonic progression. “The Words That Maketh Murder” also showcases her ability to use instrumentation.

Her skills with the autoharp and guitar prove her versatility within the rock community. This is the woman who along with Nirvana, set a precedent
for the grunge scene. Harvey has created stories within her music ranging from the classic “Down By The Water” to the ode to New York City, “Good Fortune.”

It is no surprise that with Let England Shake, Harvey continues the work that she has done so well for the past twenty years. Harvey leads in versatility, innovation and progression. This album and its DVD are just more evidence of such. The Let England Shake DVD is in stores now.