Tuesday, 13 September 2011

PJ Harvey: the multi-Mercury making monster

She's only gone and done it again! On Tuesday PJ Harvey's Let England Shake album won the 2011 Mercury Music Prize after Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea won in 2001. But she did thoroughly deserve it. The album's a modern gem to be treasured for generations to come.

Harvey has a totally unique voice (so have I, but for completely the opposite reasons) that echoes through your ears, sends shivers down your spine and touches your very soul. She can play about every instrument that exists (guitar, bass, keyboard, autoharp, zither, saxophone, violin, cello, harmonica and percussion) with impeccable precision in order to create, in my humble opinion, the most moving album of the year. And she wrote all controversial, condemning yet so so true lyrics herself. It's like that Kwikfit advert; you'll be amazed at what PJ Harvey does.

But it's the meaning behind this album is that really blows me away. She's studied the ongoing violence in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as parts of World War I to write the ultimate war album that has been compared to the work of one Ernest Hemmingway. All the needless endless bloodshed that has happened, is happening and will happen has been collected and condensed into forty minutes of utter brilliance. There are few albums that have the power to make me cry but just listening to ten minutes of this wells me up in morbid grief.

Seamus Murphey's partly to blame for that. I'm skint and can't afford to go out buying CDs  (let alone a CD player) willy nilly so don't actually own any of the nominated albums and don't really plan on buying them. What I do have is this thing called YouTube. Thank goodness for YouTube. Because the aforementioned Seamus Murphey has made videos for all twelve tracks. And because he's a genius he's compiled all his pictures and recordings before sticking an actual real life person who's the warfare and its effects first hand to read out the first verse of each song before it's sung. Utterly mesmirising.

Before I end I'd just like to mention John Parish, Mick Harvey, Jean-Marc Butty who played the very few instruments that PJ Harvey hasn't yet mastered and backing vocalists Sammy Hurden, Greta Berlin and Lucy Roberts. Their help is invaluable and heavily appreciated by all fans of good music such as myself.

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