Obviously I am thrilled that PJ Harvey won the Mercury Music Prize last night. Anyone who has even a passing acquaintance with me will know that my love for her is huge and abiding.
I think it's really fitting and great that she is the first artist in the history of the Mercury to win it twice - testament to the fact that she has the most interesting and consistently high-quality career of possibly any other musician in this era or country. She is as relevant now as she has ever been; maybe even more relevant than ever before with this album - it's certainly her first album to be so outward-facing, rather than turned inward on herself, and I get the sense that this shift has reinvigorated her in all sorts of ways. That's to say nothing of all of her albums for which she has been nominated and not won - almost any of her albums could comfortably stand up as a perfect example of her work of the time, head and curly hair above anything else out there in terms of creativity, artistic weight and sheer craft.
As Polly herself said last night: a lot has happened since the last time she won. It's amazing how much.
The last time she won the Mercury, it was the 11th September 2001. I was 20 and working in Hong Kong. Polly Harvey was in Washington. I have never felt further from my family and from real life; we all have our stories of sadness and strangeness on that day.
A lot of things have happened to all of us and to the world since then. In many ways, the world seems like a scarier place, but work like Polly Harvey's is one of the things that gives me a flash of hope.
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