#tbt PJ Harvey / Rid of Me (1993)

By Randy Nieto
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English indie queen Polly Jean Harvey has been known for her collaborations and thoughtfully art-inspired musical projects. Her most recent, the Hope Six Demolition Project, was recorded in front of the public as part of an art installation at Somerset House. According to her wiki, Harvey possesses an expansive contralto vocal range, and dislikes repeating herself in her music, which is pretty apparent if you have listened to more than one song by her. It’s evident on her second album, Rid of Me. A Steve Albini produced record, Albini’s sound is most evident with the snare and guitars being up front in the mix. (side note: Albini joked PJ ate potatoes the entire time they recorded the album). Given the time period it was created and the heavy sound of the record, it is clear this album was heavily influenced by the grunge wave that was sweeping the music landscape in 1993. But what sets this album apart from those other crunchy records at the time is Harvey’s vocals. Her deep, no so delicate, passionate and disparate vocal range could bring a tear to grunge music hardest cynics. I enjoy me a Nirvana song from time to time, but I’m not going to lie, I don’t listen to much of the grunge music nowadays. This album, however, feels more like the music was written around PJ’s vocal melodies.  She does an excellent cover of Bob Dylan’s Highway Sixty One, and in most of the songs she employs the loud-quiet-loud method, which is effective for the sound of the album and her songwriting style at the time. Included on the record is also a string quartet version of Man Size, eerie and beautiful. Check out the single, 50 ft Queenie below.

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