Critic's Choice

Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, the most recent album by PJ Harvey, received the usual critical hosannas, and it's in the running for this year's high-status Mercury Music Prize. But many of Harvey's fans (this one included) found it a bit difficult to get worked up over the disc, largely because of its somewhat softer, less intense sound and the somewhat softer, less intense Polly Jean who went along with it. (In interviews published around the time of the disc's appearance, Harvey talked about being happy, which is a good thing for her, but not necessarily for her music.) Nonetheless, even a tamer-than-usual Harvey is leagues ahead of most of her peers, and she remains a riveting performer. She's spent most of the year in stadiums and arenas opening for U2, whose fans were more interested in having a beautiful day than in plumbing the emotional depths of Harvey's material, so the opportunity to see her cut loose within the intimate confines of the Gothic Theatre, as she'll do on Saturday, September 15, in the company of Moris Tepper, is rare indeed. Get those hosannas ready.


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