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PJ Harvey - The story so far


Feature: Jack Foley

UH HUH Her, the new release from PJ Harvey, marks the seventh album from the talented artist, and the keenly-anticipated follow-up to the hugely successful Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, which won the 2001 Mercury Music Prize.

After a Summer of live dates - including appearances at V2003, the V Festival, the Eden Project and the first rock concert at Tate Modern – Harvey put the finishing touches to finished work on the new record in the Autumn of 2003.

The album was written, performed, recorded, mixed and produced by Harvey, who also chose Rob Ellis, a long-time collaborator, to contribute drums and percussion. Multi-instrumentalist, Harvey, played everything else.

From the outset, PJ Harvey has commanded attention.

Polly Jean Harvey formed the bass/drums/guitar trio in 1991 in Dorset and by autumn had released the debut single, Dress, on indie label, Too Pure.

With a second single, Sheela-Na-Gig, in February 1992, Harvey had begun an impressive critical climb, which set the stage for a highly-anticipated album release the following month.

Dry was hailed as an astonishing debut, not just in the UK but world-wide, and especially in the United States, where Rolling Stone named Harvey Best Songwriter and Best New Female Singer.

In 1993, PJ Harvey signed to Island Records and began work on a follow-up album. The band went into the studio with Steve Albini, in Minneapolis, and the resulting album, Rid Of Me, was released in early '93.

The album was supported by a lengthy world tour, drawing increasingly wide audiences and Harvey’s first Mercury Prize nomination.

However, by the end of the tour, Polly made the decision to dissolve the original trio and explore working with other musicians.

The album, 4-Track Demos, was released in the Autumn of 1993, which comprised of 14 songs, a mixture of unreleased material, and Harvey’s own demos for Rid Of Me.

To Bring You My Love followed in 1995, an eclectic and starkly original album. She enlisted a variety of musicians to play on the album, including John Parish (who co-produced, along with Flood and Harvey), keyboardist, Eric Drew Feldman, and guitarist, Joe Gore.

The tour which followed saw Harvey explore a theatrical edge to her live performance. She received her second nomination for the Mercury Music Prize and was nominated for two Grammies, received '1995 Artist Of The Year' awards from Rolling Stone and Spin, and gained album of the year acknowledgements across the board.

Recording her fifth album, Is This Desire?, in London and Dorset, Harvey once again co-produced the album with Flood and once again worked with Rob Ellis, from the original P J Harvey line-up.

It was released in September '98 and featured 12 new tracks, attracting plaudits on both sides of the Atlantic and gaining nominations for The Brits and The Grammy Awards.

Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, the much anticipated follow-up to Is This Desire? was released in October 2000. The album, produced and performed by P J Harvey, Rob Ellis and Mick Harvey, picked up the Mercury Music Prize, in 2001, the first album by a female artist to win the award.

Described by the NME as ‘a magnificent, life-affirming opus’ Stories… was supported by a lengthy, world-wide sell-out tour.

Extra-curricular projects include soundtrack work on Basquiat, Stella Does Tricks, The Cradle Will Rock and Six Feet Under, as well as an appearance as Mary Magdalene in Hal Hartley movie, The Book Of Life.

In 1996, she worked with John Parish on the album, Dance Hall At Louse Point, where her words accompanied the music of John Parish, for both the album and a live accompaniment to the Mark Bruce Dance Company production of the same name.

She has collaborated with an extraordinary range of musicians, duetting with Nick Cave, Tricky, How Gelb of Giant Sand, Pascal Comelade, Gordon Gano of Violent Femmes and appearing on Sparklehorse album, It’s A Wonderful Life.

Most recently, she joined Queen’s of the Stoneage’s Josh Homme on his critically-acclaimed Desert Sessions project – released last year – and worked with Mark Lanegan (also of QOSTA) on his forthcoming solo album.

Harvey produced the debut album by American artist, Tiffany Anders, and has most recently written, recorded and produced material for Marianne Faithfull’s next album, due for release later this year.

In addition to her musical career, Harvey has exhibited sculpture in galleries across the country and has had poetry published.

Uh Huh Her looks set to continue that success story well into 2004…

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