Tuesday, December 05, 2006

FDF Volume 1 Issue 39: PJ Harvey - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea

Album - PJ Harvey
Artist - Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea
Key Players - PJ Harvey guitars and vocals as well as bass on some tracks. Rob Ellis and Mick Harvey played everything from guitars to bass to drum to piano.
Produced By - PJ Harvey, Rob Ellis and Mick Harvey

Release Date - October 24, 2000

What caused me to blow off the dust? - There was no underlying reason other than a good ass whippin musically. As I scanned the collection this just called out to be listened to.

Overview - This was the second largely popular (and 5th full length studio release) from PJ Harvey. It would go on to sell over a million copies world wide. The album was heralded as the finest of her career (to that point) and it made many year end "best of" lists. The album would also win the Mercury Prize in 2001, an award given for the best British/Irish album for the previous 12 months. The band won the award on another famous day September 11, 2001. Even before this event PJ wanted to release a more "beautiful" record than she had ever done before.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - After a short intro "Big Exit" opens the record. Its a driving track and PJ sings with urgency. The band matches up well to her playing and no one really takes away from each other. One of the first singles from the record "Good Fortune" is next. A little more of a ringing guitar sound is used and PJs vocals are once again crisp and urgent. This was always fun to hear live. "A Place Called Home" and "One Line" have PJ starting the vocals right at the start, there is no instrumental lead in. Both these tracks pretty much give you the idea of what PJ is about. To this point the record is both up tempo and a little more "happy" than her previous records. For a song named "Beautiful Feeling" it sure starts off dark..and remains so. "The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore" follows and with a song title like that you pretty much get what you'd think. at the end she just wails, her raw emotion just comes out. "This Mess We're In" Thom Yorke of Radiohead appears on this track. More than just a guest appearance he is the primary vocalist on the track with PJ offering the backup duties. The "duet" works well. Thom has a high falsetto and PJs grit add to the effectiveness of the track. "You Said Something" was another track released as single in the USA. The lyric she sings of "you said something I've never forgotten" makes you wonder just what was said! Later she even says it was "important". The song keeps a pretty even keel until the final verse when she just oozes passion but leaves you hanging.what was it that "you said?"! "Kamikaze" builds and builds and by the chorus we are a fevered pace. PJ shrieks "Kamikaze" as the chug of the guitars and bass surround her. The song goes up and down yet never loses speed if that somehow makes sense. "Is This Love" a slight vocal distortion is placed on PJs vocal track. Its very subtle but adds a bit of gravel to the vocal delivery. Sung in the tone of a shattered romance perhaps? "Horses in My Dreams" and "We Float" wrap up the record. Both songs are also the longest tracks. "Horses" has mellow guitars and a soft piano that PJ just sings over. Gradually the guitars come in but they keep with the overall vibe of the track. "We Float" is the track with the "most going on". There are drums, piano, organ and "bells" to name just a few.

Where are they now? - PJ Harvey played a show in the UK earlier in 2006 and revealed her new studio album would be almost totally piano based. A live concert DVD "Please Leave Quietly" was released in the fall of 2006 as well as the "The Peel Sessions 1991-2004". Its noted that in November of 2006 she has begun work on her next studio album

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) June 6, and 9th 2001 opening for U2 are the only times I have seen Polly Jean live at least in a large forum. At the time of this tour I was working for a Boston radio station and PJ came in and did a solo acoustic set and interview. That show was on an off day on the U2 tour (June 7, 2000). I was able to go to the session and watch her perform and meet her afterward. The chance of meeting her was pretty low at first, she is very shy and private, which is sometimes hard to imagine given her lyrics and ability to perform in front of thousands. She did 2 songs and afterward we were able to say hello and have some things signed. She was very nice and once she was done she left so she could go bowling with her band mates.

FDF Overall Take - Per the norm with FDF one could easily go with a, what some may see "better" or "stronger" album. The idea has always been to take records for "what they are". Again, if someone said to me "I'd like to check out some of her stuff" I'd probably hand them this first. Then I might say "if you dig check out "Dry" next or what have you. If you feel like spreading your musical wings with PJ Harvey I'd go with this.

Happy listening.


At 7:32 PM, Blogger Jenny G said...

I have To Bring You My Love and I love it. I was thinking of getting this.


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