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PJ Harvey wins second Mercury Music Prize for Let England Shake

PJ Harvey

Story by Jack Foley

PJ HARVEY has become the first person to win the highly coveted Mercury Prize twice with her album Let England Shake.

The record, which was inspired by the horrors of war, was the bookmakers’ favourite to triumph – although the awards have a habit of throwing in surprise winners.

Harvey first won in 2001 – on September 11 – for her album Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea but was unable to accept the prize in person because she was on tour in the US.

This time around, however, she was in London to collect the award and said: “It’s really good to be here this evening, because when I last won 10 years ago I was in Washington DC watching the Pentagon burning from my hotel window.”

She continued: “So much has happened since then. This album took me a long time to write. It was very important to me. I wanted to make something meaningful, not just for myself but for other people, and hopefully to make something that would last.”

Let England Shake, which includes the hit single The Hands That Maketh Murder, features graphic lyrics about warfare, as well as allusions to other songs.

Instrumentally, it also includes the prominent use of an autoharp, played by Harvey.

Commenting on how they arrived at their decision, singer Corinne Bailey Rae, who was one of the judges, said the panel was in unanimous agreement.

“It was a tough decision, but were all in agreement.”

She added that the lyrics made the record stand out because they were “really imaginative, almost cinematic”.

Harvey beat the likes of Adele, Tinie Tempah, Katy B and Elbow to the £20,000 prize.

Electronic band The xx won last year’s prize for their self-titled debut album.