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PJ Harvey dominates end of year polls

For once there seems a near unanimity among the critics selecting the album of the year. PJ Harvey’s Let England Shake, released in February, has already won the Mercury Prize. It has also been named as 2011’s album of the year in the end-of-year critics’ polls from Mojo, Uncut, NME and The Guardian. Q magazine went for Florence & The Machine instead.

It’s an album about land and war, as Harvey wails with fearsome articulacy about her country, and her countryside. You don’t need to hear the burr in her accent to realise that Harvey grew up in a rural community in Dorset.

The critics have swooned about the imagery, language and power in songs like Colour Of The Earth and The Glorious Land. It’s an album infused with a sense of history that still manages to be very topical.

It moves Harvey from being an interesting artist on the alternative fringes to being at the epicentre of British music, a social commentator as acerbic and original as Thom Yorke. She might find it hard to come up with another album as coherent and timely as Let England Shake.

Harvey also gave us one of the more bizarre moments on British television in October, sitting next to the Prime Minister on the Andrew Marr show. He told her that Samantha Cameron had bought the album on iTunes, and that they had even listened to it a couple of times. In return she chastised his government for cuts to arts funding in Somerset.

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