PJ Harvey - Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea
PJ Harvey is probably one of the most well known singer-songwriters of the 90s and onwards. PJ Harvey was started by Polly Jean Harvey, along with bassist Steve Vaughn and drummer Rob Ellis. The group later parted ways and Polly Jean continued PJ Harvey as a solo effort. PJ is a talented multi instrumentalist, as well as being an extremly talented vocalist. Throughout her career, PJ has collaborated on other artist's records, such as Nick Cave's "Murder Ballads" album Josh Homme's Desert Sessions project, on the album "Volume 9-10". This album features a duet with Thom Yorke of Radiohead.
"Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea" was very highly rated by music critics and PJ went on to be the first female to win the Mercury Award in 2001 for it. The album was inspired by PJ's six month stay in New York City. This album is extremely solid with hardly any bad tracks on it.
- Vocals, Bass, Guitar, Maracas, Production, Engineering
- Synthesiser, Piano, Drums, Harpsichord
- Organ, Bass, Percussion, Drums, Harmonium, Keyboards, Backing Vocals, [b]Production
- Engineering, Mixing
- Design, Photography
Victor Van Vugt
- This track is one of the best of the album. The guitars come in from the start doing two different parts which sound excellent together, they have a very indie-rock clean sound about them. Then PJ's voice comes in, sounding like PJ. In the chorus she sings a lot higher than in the verses and her voice sounds a lot more feminine. A straight foward, quality song.
- A happy song, at least by PJ standards. The guitar, bass and drums are all very straight foward, playing relatively simple things. PJ's singing is very nice, it's quite hard not to like her voice. This song is another happy, straight foward rocker, excellent song.
A Place Called Home
- This track isn't much different from the last two, but at the same time, it's not at all boring and doesn't feel like you are listening to the same song again. The feel of song is somewhat darker, but the lyrics are hopeful, the most recognisable line being "one day there'll be a place for us". PJ's singing is great in this song, her voice is very sweet. The drumming is also a highlight, the snare sounds great.
- Some great guitar work in this song. The sound of the guitar is extremely nice and totally fits with both PJ's lead and backing vocals. PJ's voice is easily the highlight of the track, but the support roles of the band are great, especially the keyboards, guitars and backing vocals.
- The darkest track of the album so far. PJ's voice is backed by an electric guitar and nothing else. The song is great in that it does exactly what it sets out to do. PJ's voice handles the dynamics of the song perfectly and goes up and down along with the guitar extremely well. There are some great lines in this song, such as "it's the best thing". Great track.
The Whores Hustle and the Hustlers Whore
- This song is just great, it rocks a lot moret than the last track, but it is still pretty dark. Lyrically, the song is about city life on the streets. There is talk of drugs in the lyrics and PJ's voice sounds pretty negative and in some points, mildly sarcastic and cynical. The instrumentation is very cool, especially during the verses. Not really one of the album's best but a good song on it's own.
This Mess We're In
- Maybe this is just a biased opinion from a huge Radiohead fan, but this song is easily the best song on the album. Actually, this is one of the best songs ever. Thom Yorke's voice is incredible, he sings exactly the way he should, given the mood and the lyrics. Lyrically, the song is about two lovers who are having an affair. It's a very dark song, with lines such as "I don't think we will meet again". The instrumentation of the song is very simple, the main riff based around two chords and the drummer playing a simple beat with rimshots. The two best parts of the song are the chorus when Thom just sings notes in falsetto and PJ sings over the top with the line "the city's sunset over me" and the part towards the end when Thom sings a line and PJ speaks it, Pj eventually overtakes him but they sing the line "this mess we're in" together. Wonderful stuff, easily one of the best PJ songs ever.
You Said Something
- A refreshingly nice sounding track, although very short. The guitar parts are just nice and fit in well with PJ's voice. It's a relatively simple song, with some lead parts towards the end of the song, it's all just very nice. PJ's voice isn't always the prettiest, but in this case it's quite lovely.
- This song rocks. The verse is similar to the verse of "Dress", PJ's first big single. The verse just features some muted parts and then the instruments go all out in the chorus. PJ sings her highest parts on the album yet, over the line "kamikazeee!!!!". The song is quite short, but it rocks a lot and comes off as one of the best tracks on the album. It's just extremely cool.
This Is Love
- Cool song, similar to the earlier tracks. The songs another rocker, but not as much as "Kamikaze". There are some cool verses at the start but at the end, the song just gets pretty repetive with the one line, "this is love". Some good instrumentation in here, everything just fits in well and the lead parts in it are especially great. Possbily the album's weakest track, but still very good.
Horses In My Dreams
- The slowest and softest track on the album yet, featuring mainly piano and acoustic guitar. PJ sings it very softly and passionatly. Her voice sounds very husky at the start and she makes the song sound very dark. After a while, the song just turns into a lovely track with acoustic guitar, piano and lovely lead parts over the top, while PJ is singing. The song is very good, probably one of the album's best. It's just all so perfect.
- The album's closer is one of the best tracks. It starts with some drums and piano for the first verse. Then when the second verse comes in, PJ has vocal harmonies recorded and they are incredible. The whole song is quite happy and uplifting, with the main lyric of chorus being "We float, take life as it comes". PJ's voice is extremely pretty and feminine and sounds amazing with the rest of the song. There are some lead guitar parts played with an E-bow, which is always good. An aboslutely perfect album closer and one of the best PJ tracks ever.
This is a great album. If there's one thing you can't say against PJ, you can't say that she's inconsistant. Every album she has done has been almost equally good and this one is no exception. There is nothing bad on this album. In fact, there is nothing on it that isn't really really good. PJ has an incredibly powerful voice and this record shows it's versatility. The moods in the songs are diverse and show a happy side of PJ. This is easily one of her best records, not that it's easy to decide between any of them.
FINAL RATING: 4.5/5