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Even in a stripped back state, PJ Harvey remains timeless

"Dry - Demos"

Release date: 24 July 2020
24 July 2020, 14:15 Written by Bella Fleming
First released in 1992, PJ Harvey’s reissue of her debut album, Dry – Demos, sees her music stripped back to demos in its most raw and unfiltered version yet.

An album reportedly formed around the struggles following the demise from an intense relationship, Harvey touches upon themes of acceptance, rejection, and the intensity of life in London after her contrasting childhood in rural Dorset.

The opening track “Oh My Lover” is an angry and desperate song and immediately the listener can understand the anxiety and longing for an old relationship held by Harvey. The lyrics “you can love her / and you can love me at the same time” shows Harvey’s fortitude to maintain the relationship at any cost. Stripped back in its demo form, the heavy drum and brazen guitar adds an even darker intensity to this sullen track.

The lead single from the album, “Dress”, narrates a naïve young woman vying for love and romance. Harvey discusses the challenges that are imposed on women. The lyrics “must be a way I can dress to please him / it’s hard to walk in the dress” oozes of Harvey’s longing to be loved and accepted by the man she adores. Swarmed in a world where women’s bodies are endlessly objectified and women must adorn themselves to be accepted, Harvey’s raw edge and remarkable talent for narrating the challenges imposed on young women is as relevant in 2020 as it was in 1992.

Whilst Dry could be seen as an album of Harvey’s weakness and inability to accept the end of an intense relationship, her ability to make herself vulnerable and open to the pain she feels in the mourning of the relationship is so brilliantly articulated and resonates among so many naïve and innocent women. PJ Harvey’s honesty and raw sound throughout Dry is what makes it an album that continues to stand the test of time.

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