A Place Called Home – P.J. Harvey (Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, 2000)
Opening with her breathing the songs opening lines in the mic:
“One day I know we’ll find a place of hope
Just hold on to me, just hold on to me”
Immediately we’re off-and-running on this fabulous song featured on my favorite P.J. Harvey album (it also won the Mercury Music Prize in 2001 in her homeland Britain). “A Place Called Home” has got to be Polly Jean at her most accessible, yet most authentically heartfelt. This song was the second single from the album, and by no means a hit, it’s still considered by many to be one of her top five songs by fans.
By the time she did the “Stories” album she’d ventured a long way from her strikingly harsh beginnings as a trio that’s stock-in-trade was punky, minimalist blues. On this album, and this song in particular, she found her inner torch singer and let her out for some fun.
This song in particular always stuck with me due to the hopeful nature combined with a killer chorus and a very rare appearance from the accordion in a rock song used well. Also just listen to the way she keeps the beat and the way she shifts dynamics and it’s hard not to just admire the heck out of this song. I also really dig the vocal overdubs between her falsetto and her vibrato personas.
The last minute is basically a super-long fade-out but even that his handled deftly and artfully. The piano makes an appearance as she employs a fun technique of repeating the chorus one or two words at a time. Yes, one day there’ll be a place for us P.J.