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Polly Jean Harvey

THERE’VE BEEN MORE than a few pretenders to the throne of New Rock Goddess—Courtney Love, Liz Phair, Joan Osborne, Alanis Morissette, not to mention sundry Bikini Killers, Breeders et al—but for whatever reason, nobody’s been willing to take the risk to come across as an artist with a capital “A,” a Romantic-style genius, someone possessed by her muse or her daimon, or even the hellhounds on her trail. Nobody except PJ Harvey: a nice girl from a small town near Yeovil, England, who, as the legend goes, was brought up by groovy boho parents in a house full of blues musicians and stonecutters. She flirted with art school and music, wisely opted for music, put out an album called Dry, 1992, appeared on the cover of NME with her shirt off, and generally created a furor (of approbation and otherwise). Now, three albums later—the Steve Albini-produced Rid of Me, 1993, the raw 4-Track Demos,

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