Raised in a musical household, PJ Harvey's formative years were spent absorbing blues, jazz and folk music alongside art-rock such as Captain Beefheart. She began writing her own songs while still at school and after moving to London, recruited drummer Rob Ellis and bass player Ian Olliver (who was later replaced by Steve Vaughan) to play her raucous, blues-influenced songs. Swiftly snapped up by the influential independent label, Too Pure Records, she made her debut with the single, Dress, in late 1991. Her debut album, Dry, earned universally excellent reviews and brought Harvey to the attention of Island Records. Her potent guitar playing, allied to soul-baring lyrics were raised to a new level of intensity on the 1993 follow-up, Rid Of Me, produced by the controversial Big Black/Rapeman songwriter, Steve Albini. Her third album, To Bring You My Love, eschewed the brutal minimalism of its predecessor in favour of a lusher more sinister atmosphere. She subsequently contributed to albums by Nick Cave and Tricky, and filtered some of the latter's oblique approach on 1998's starkly beautiful Is This Desire? Harvey's sixth album, Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, was her most accessible yet, balancing thrashy alternative rock with dark, sensual ballads, and was awarded the prestigious Mercury Music Prize in September 2001. Subsequent albums retreated from the mainstream, via the stripped down rock sound of 2004's Uh Huh Her and the gauzy, piano-led White Chalk in 2007. In 2009 she and long term collaborator John Parish released the exhilarating album A Woman A Man Walked By.
Followers: The Kills, The Raveonettes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Influenced By: Captain Beefheart, The Pixies, Patti Smith, Leadbelly, Television, Nina Simone...