Among the major names in contemporary British culture, there is certainly Polly Jean Harvey, better known as PJ Harvey. Nowadays, critics regard her as a star, famous for her music — she writes, sings and composes — and yet she could be defined as a total artist, given the range of her interests and the quality of her eclecticism. She is a writer and a poet, a painter, and a drawer. But she also has experience playing in films (as with Hal Hartley), and working on the radio as guest editor (BBC Radio 4), and who knows what else she may be capable of doing.
In light of this reasoning, I would like to suggest here a possibility to consider PJ Harvey as a kind of “contemporary classic,” a formula that might work for outlining a voice able to narrate the present through a force so vivid to make it a model.
An enchanted wanderer
All this — and much more — is pretty clear by listening to her latest work, The Hope Six Demolition Project, released last year. One may read it as a sort of concept album about the theme of travel as personal discovery as well as political observation of an idea of the world. Thereby, something different after Let England Shake, but it is also — for the umpteenth time — a proof of continuity in her regeneration in style and themes as guidance. The work comes out from a series of her journeys between Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington, D.C. More specifically, the American leg gave her the title: Hope VI is a plan conceived by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to revitalize some public housing projects in different cities throughout the country.