I'm starting a new series called "New Jams." As many of you know, I am a musician, (fiddler/violist/singer/songwrtier) and there some really exciting things going on right now that are in the works (which I have mentioned before.) Although I can't share any of that information at the moment, I will be sharing the latest music that I'm listening to. (Not as exciting, but this is basically my favorite thing to talk about in "real life," so I thought I'd bring the discussion over to the blog!) I'm an avid Spotify-user, which is a bit taboo for a musician, I think, but that's another story for another time. Spotify is where I find all the current music I'm listening to. It's so easy to use and just makes it that much easier to explore different genre's that you might not normally give a chance. Some of the music I listen to has just come out and the artist has recently released a new album, but a lot of it is just new-to-me musicians and artists that I've discovered on my own.
So first up, is this knock-your-socks-off album "Let England Shake" by the lovely Ms. PJ Harvey. I've been a fan of hers since her album White Chalk, which came out back in 2007. When I first heard her, I was honestly like "what the f*ck just happened." She's bizarre. She's kinda freaky. And her lyrics are kinda scary at times. (White Chalk is REAL depressing for the most part.) But she's an artist… Yah?! PJ Harvey is one of those musicians who lives and breathes her art. In fact, I just read somewhere that every album she comes out with brings basically a new chapter of her life quite literally. Harvey's goal is to "never repeat herself" and to continue reinventing herself with every new album by changing not only her musical styles, but also her physical appearance. I remember I had my boyfriend at the time listen to "The Mountain" from her 2007 album, and he looked at me like I was losing my marbles. (I will never date another close-minded musician ever.) She sings completely out of key for the latter half of "The Mountain", but the more I listened to it, the more I realized that her out-of-tune belting was actually quite strategically placed and was in fact, beautiful. After that, I hadn't listened to her for several years, because I over-played White Chalk and was not a huge fan of Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea. (There is a great track on that album though, called "This Mess We're In." It's a collab with my favorite Thom Yorke from Radiohead. But she also has several other albums that I have not listened to.)
Last week, I typed her into the search engine of my Spotify account and started listening to to her 2011 album "Let England Shake." And boy, am I glad I typed in her name and clicked on this album, because it's another world-changer in my opinion. PJ Harvey is a like a Bjork or a Thom Yorke. All three of these artists use their voices as instruments in different ways, and they're ingenious lyricists. I wish I had one sixteenth of the talent they had when it comes to writing lyrics, but alas, I have not been doing it that long. "Let England Shake" is absolutely beautiful, with many references to her love for her homeland, England. She uses different technologies throughout the tracks such as recordings of bells from a vintage ice-cream parlor, a circus trumpeter, or a middle-eastern lick from a old traditional-tune. That's what I imagine they are, at least. PJ Harvey brings her music to places that I would never expect, which is something that is hard to find in my opinion. Harmonics are my forte, and I often know where a song is going to go before I even hear it through once. So it's fun to listen to music that's surprising and exciting! She uses her voice in so many different ways and is not afraid to crack or sound odd. I mean, those of you who listen to her know what I'm talking about. She's just downright odd sometimes, but she hooks you in with her unexpected melodies. It's incredible!