Polly Jean Harvey, born October 9, 1969 in Yeovil, United Kingdom and raised in nearby Corscombe (Dorset), is an English singer-songwriter. She has recorded as a solo artist under the name PJ Harvey, but she began her career as part of a trio (with drummer Rob Ellis and bassist Steve Vaughan), also named PJ Harvey, in 1991. Early material released by the trio on Dry, 4 Track Demos and Rid of Me was praised by critics for its raw, guitar-driven sound and sharp-witted, melancholic lyrics.
Early material released by the trio on Dry, 4 Track Demos and Rid of Me was praised by critics for its raw, guitar-driven sound and sharp-witted, melancholic lyrics. After the trio broke up, Harvey released To Bring You My Love, a blues-heavy album that expanded the range of her sound through the incorporation of strings, organs, and electronic sound effects. Her stage show became more theatrical, with Harvey performing in ballgowns, pink catsuits, wigs and garish, vampish make-up. Never one to rest, she followed this album with the softer, more experimental Is This Desire? and then Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea, which combined her more guitar-driven work with cleaner, lusher arrangements. Stories won her the 2001 Mercury Prize.
In 2004 she released Uh Huh Her, a return to her earlier, rawer sound. Uh Huh Her was met with a somewhat mixed response; while some critics welcomed Harvey's re-exploration of her previous styles, others felt that the album was something of a rehash. Around the same time, she produced and co-wrote half of Marianne Faithfull's album Before the Poison, which received much critical praise.
Apparently the result of writer's block (according to reports made by the BBC), 2007's White Chalk saw Harvey exploring new territory. Jettisoning her trademark guitar-driven sound, White Chalk was a collection of eerie, skeletal piano ballads; . Harvey received widespread praise for the album. In 2011, Harvey released the album Let England Shake, in which she explored war-related themes, using Britain's involvement in World War I as a historical backdrop. The album received widespread critical acclaim and won Harvey her second Mercury Prize; to date, she is the only person to win the prize more than once.
She has also collaborated with a number of other artists, including Nick Cave, Thom Yorke, Bjork, John Parish, Tricky, Sparklehorse, Josh Homme, Pascal Comelade and Mark Lanegan. PJ Harvey has also been a collaborator in the Desert Sessions, along with Josh Homme, Jeordie White, Dave Catching, Nick Oliveri, Mark Lanegan, Chris Goss, Alain Johannes, Dean Ween, and many others.