PJ Harvey : Glasgow Barrowlands

Everyone says I love you, but no-one says it with quite as much carnal glee as Polly Jean Harvey

Everyone says I love you, but no-one says it with quite as much

carnal glee as Polly Jean Harvey. In the scramble to find the most apposite title

for Somerset’s most difficult daughter, it’s often forgotten that Harvey is Lust’s

finest ambassador. Now, with the Mercury Prize-winning ‘Stories From The City,

Stories From The Sea’, we find her in the throes of a rebirth. It’s an album rich in texture

and brimming with fresh confidence; a sigh of lyrical – and musical –

gratification after the breathless, confused, neo-industrial clamour of

‘Is This Desire?’. It’s also the closest the raven-haired songstress has come to sounding



likes of the dark ‘Down By The Water’ and the formally

spindle-limbed ‘Send His Love To Me’ are remade and

remodelled into primal roars of self-confidence. Opener

‘One Line’ reverberates

with cavernous drums and fathomless longing, and ‘Sky Lit

Up’ drags itself from

the depths of the Mississippi mudflats to Patti Smith’s

bathroom floor. ‘The Whores Hustle

and the Hustlers Whore’ follows on a giant wave of unearthly

avant-noise, with Harvey

shrieking and whirling across the stage; it’s ‘The Wicker Man”s

Willow via Liza


If her flirtation with the once-elusive mainstream has stirred

any personal

unease, it doesn’t show. Indeed, Harvey’s toothsome grin and

hand-clapping, crowd-rousing chutzpah suggests the songwriter has found her spiritual home; that

all previous

roads – from the bare-faced angst-maiden of ‘Dry’ to the predatory,

glassy-eyed vamp

of ‘To Bring You My Love’ – were destined to lead here.

Tonight, the relationship between city and country, which has powered

Harvey’s muse

since her 1991 debut tore open the decade, is

as pronounced

as ever. ‘Big Exit’ melts into ‘Dry’,

limbs and lyrics entangled in New York City

gloss and delta grit, while the Television-ish ‘This Is

Love’ becomes a bedside companion

piece to earthy, libidinous paean ‘Man-Size'[I] (“Lick my

legs/I’m on fire”)[/I].

This new, New York groove fits her like a fingerless

lace glove.

While most great female songwriters eventually find themselves

canonised, only in

PJ Harvey will saints and sinners alike find

their guiding light.

Sarah Dempster