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Album Review

Polly Jean Harvey arrives fully formed as a songwriter on PJ Harvey's debut album, Dry. Borrowing its primitive attack from post-punk guitar rock and its form from the blues, Dry is a forceful collection of brutally emotional songs, highlighted by Harvey's deft lyricism and startling voice, as well as her trio's muscular sound. Her voice makes each song sound like it was an exposed nerve, but her lyrics aren't quite that simple. Shaded with metaphors and the occasional biblical allusion, Dry is essentially an assault on feminine conventions and expectations, and while there are layers of dark humor, they aren't particularly evident, since Harvey's singing is shockingly raw. Her vocals are perfectly complemented by the trio's ferocious pounding, which makes even the slow ballads sound like exercises in controlled fury. And that's the key to Dry: the songs, which are often surprisingly catchy — "Dress" and "Sheela-Na-Gig" both have strong hooks — are as muscular and forceful as the band's delivery, making the album a vibrant and fully realized debut.

Customer Reviews

Songs From A Room

Back in 1994 i lived in a crummy bedsit with horrid damp walls. Out of the 10 albums i rescued from the wreckage of my former home this was one i played and played. It really is that good! Plants and Rags and Dress are personal choices but every time i play this album i can smell damp wallpaper and inscence sticks. Nostalgia, great innit!

The Best Indie First Album Ever

This is startling. Deep, hard, angry, brutal. What a beginning for Polly. This is a must have for all lovers of indie music.

Just because it's ten years old doesn't mean your nan likes it

Why oh why are there only two reviews for this album? It is arguable better than 'Horses' and certainly the definitive post everything angry girl debut album of that decade. PJ Harvey holds her head up with all the greats and ironically, her music being so unbalanced and extraordinarily inquisitive, she has remained stable, producing a consistently excellent, though occasionally challenging, catalogue. This album hits you in the face from its opening chords and wail and doesn't stop hitting you until its final track 'water' which just happens to be one of her signature masterpieces - yes that's right, the last track. It isn't all anger - there are gaps and silences, but these tend to be included in the tracks and not packaged up neatly into the obligatory ballad. PJ Harvey is absolutely uncompromising and consequently her music is exquisitly soulful, raw, paradoxical and always angry but never to the point of destruction. Here is a woman in control and at the top of her game from the first blow of the whistle. Take my advice: Listen to this album and convert. You will thank me for it.


Born: 09 October 1969 in Yeovil, England

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

During the early-'90s alternative rock explosion, several female singer/songwriters rose to prominence, but few were as distinctive or as widely praised as Polly Jean Harvey. Over the course of three albums, Harvey established herself as one of the most individual and influential songwriters of the '90s, exploring themes of sex, love, and religion with unnerving honesty, dark humor, and a twisted theatricality. At the outset of her career, she led the trio PJ Harvey, which delivered her stark songs...
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