Today, 9 October, the brilliant English songstress and multi instrumentalist, one of my most fave female artists of all time, Polly Jean Harvey, turned 52.
The music video, Harvey performs “Let England Shake” (from Let England Shake album, 2011) on BBC’s Laterâ¦ with Jools Holland. What’s unique here, Harvey plays autoharp instead of guitar. She told Bridport News in 2011: “I was really enjoying this different, enormous, wide breadth of sound that the autoharp gives. It’s quite a delicate sound, but it’s also like having an entire orchestra at your fingertips.” The album also features Harvey’s first on-record use of the saxophone.
On the subject of a new vocal style for the album, Harvey commented that “I couldn’t sing (the songs) in a rich strong mature voice without it sounding completely wrong. So I had to slowly find the voice, and this voice started to develop, almost taking on the role of a narrator.”
Let England Shake won the coveted Mercury Prize. It was Harvey’s fourth nomination overall, making her the most successful artist in the prize’s history. The album also won the Uncut Music Award in November 2011, as well as Album of the Year in the 2012 Ivor Novello Awards.
AllMusic referred to the album as “a set of songs strikingly different from what came before” and added that “its complexities make it one of Harvey’s most cleverly crafted works.”
NME wrote: “Francis Ford Coppola can lay claim to the war movie. Ernest Hemingway the war novel. PJ Harvey, a 41-year-old from Dorset, has claimed the war album.”
Uncut calling it “the sound of someone as maddened as they are enthralled, aglow with anger and passion.”
Let England Shake was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
Happy birthday, Polly Jean. Stay sharp, radiant, and genius!
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Featured image: SC Times.
Text: Wikipedia, Uncut, NME.