A Primer on PJ Harvey

Catch her on Tuesday, May 9, at the Masonic.

(Photo by Maria Mochnacz)

In 1994, after releasing two solo albums and appearing in a number of bands, PJ Harvey took a break from the spotlight. The 24-year-old used the royalties from her first two records to buy a house in the English countryside near her parents, becoming a recluse. The location was so rural that Harvey had no neighbors within eyesight — just fields.

While hiding from the world, she began writing the songs that would eventually make up her next project. To Bring You My Love, which has since been followed by eight other albums, became Harvey’s breakthrough record and one of her best-selling. In eight guitar-filled, blues-drenched, and alt-rock-leaning tunes, Harvey asserts herself as a keen storyteller and unapologetic commentator on societal ills. “Working For The Man” is particularly punchy, a stripped-down rocker that features a non-enthused Harvey singing about trying to survive in today’s world.

The album also marked her first collaboration with Flood, a British post-punk producer who she’s since worked with several times, most recently on her 2016 release The Six Demolition Project. Even though Flood had a hand in both of them, the two projects sound nothing alike. Harvey hates repeating musical styles, which is why her expansive discography covers a range of styles, from alt-rock and punk, to blues and folk-rock. The Six Demolition Project is particularly adventurous, combining late-’60s/early-’70s guitar rock with string instruments, falsetto singing, and cheerful, choral harmonies.

PJ Harvey
At 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 9, at the Masonic. $49.50-$200; sfmasonic.com

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