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Uh Huh Her: A review.,
This review is from: Uh Huh Her (Audio CD)
I came to know of P.J. Harvey's music thanks to "Later....With Jools Holland". She has made several appearances on his show over the years, most recently in 2004. I also remember watching a televised concert, I think it was held at the Brixton Academy just before John Peel died, which (I think) was shown on ITV. I decided that I liked what I had heard and that I would try and find out more about Polly and her music.
But what finally prompted me to go out and buy this album was the untimely death of John Peel in October 2004. John, as I'm sure many readers will already know, had been a long-time fan of Harvey since 1991. She performed a number of sessions for him over the years, including one in 2004 just prior to his death.
While listening to the album I removed the booklet from the CD case, looking for lyrics (and clues), to see what the songs were about. But instead of finding lyrics what I found was a series of pictures with handwritten notes. The pictures are self portraits, and appear to have been taken over the past 15 years, and seem to have inspired the feelings behind the songs. For the most part they seem to be sad pictures and they give me the impression that:
a) Polly Jean appears not to have had an entirely happy relationship with her parents, especially her mother.
b) That she was an only child, and seems to have had either an unhappy or lonely childhood. A child full of woe....
c) I wonder if Polly was a bit of a tom boy when young?.
I would suspect that the first three pictures were taken when she still lived with her parents, possibly when at art college, possibly taken before she came to London. The next three were perhaps taken when she came to London, to study for her degree, though the scarf says to me late 80's (school uniform scarf?). I wonder if the one in the middle was taken when still at school?, or possibly in the early 90's. The next two pictures are very pop, and must have been taken later when she became famous. The next picture is a black and white, and shows Polly on a horse, apparently taken when she was young. The next picture was obviously taken during her art student days, judging by the way she is dressed, I would say that it must have been taken in the late 80's or early 90's. I wouldn't like to say when the next five pictures were taken, though I believe she now lives in the US, and suspect that at least one of them was taken there. Plus it looks as if they were all taken in her bathroom, or in women's toilets!?. Possibly these pictures were taken when she was on tour?. The last picture is modern. It appears to have been taken in the same apartment as the "What the f**k?" video.
They say that every picture tells a story, but I can only guess at what these pictures are saying. An obsession with oneself perhaps?. This is how I was and how I was feeling at such and such a time seems a much more likely explanation. But I suppose the main question is: What are these pictures supposed to tell the listener, if anything?. I can only conclude that Polly is trying to give the listener an insight into the emotional and creative process behind each of the songs. This picture montage being a work of art in it's own right.
P.J. Harvey's music is deep stuff. It soon becomes clear that the album must be autobiographical, a feeling that has only been re-enforced having recently heard "Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea". They are all sad songs, tainted with loneliness, sadness, love (or perhaps a lack of it), death and relationship problems. It is her voice and her story of her life. The songs, I believe, were inspired by real events in her life. Chronicling her relationship with her parents, especially her mother (and/or possibly her grandmother/grandparents?), as well as with boyfriends and lovers. It all seems to be very personal, that she is baring her soul to the listener.
My favorite tracks on this album were "The Pocket knife", "The letter" and "The slow drug".