Music is a powerful beast, especially when it’s used to tackle widespread issues. PJ Harvey certainly knows this, having dealt with anti-war themes in her 2011 album Let England Shake, which incidentally landed her one of her two Mercury Prizes – the only artist to have won twice in the history of the Award.
But Polly Jean isn’t finished. Though her impact on the music world started during the 90s, the British singer is still just as relevant today. The Wheel comes from her new album The Hope Six Demolition Project, which arrives on April 15th and is set to be as politically charged as her previous album – if not more so. The new song is a powerful taster of what’s to come, with collective suffering and unending cyclicality bubbling to the fore through her echoing voice and upfront lyrics.
The track is joined by a stirring video, compiled from footage shot by award-winning photojournalist Seamus Murphy. The heart of the video takes place in Kosovo, where both Harvey and Murphy had already witnessed first-hand the horror and despair caused by conflict.
“Making the film for The Wheel involved a mix of footage from the first trip in 2011, rehearsals I shot of Polly in London and the most recent trip to Kosovo. The enormous refugee crisis in Europe had been news for months. I spent some time on the Greek and Macedonian borders, and in Serbia, before travelling into Kosovo. It was happening in and through territories associated with recent conflicts in Kosovo and the wider Balkans. The idea of cycles, wheels and repetition once again being all too apparent and necessary to make.” – Seamus Murphy
Viewers have already expressed their amazement with the release, commenting on how both the song and the video provoke deep emotions, especially those who mention how they’re affected by conflict. After 4 minutes of listening and watching, it’s not hard to see why.