Gary Flockhart - Music Matters

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THE way it was. September 11, 2001. PJ Harvey is trapped in Washington DC following the earlier terrorist attacks, unable to fly to London to collect her first Mercury Music Prize. Nothing to celebrate that fateful day anyway.

As we approach the tenth anniversary of this monumental event in world history, it is fitting that Harvey has become the first artist to win the award twice.

Not for any sentimental reasons, you understand, but because she deserved it.

In accepting the prize at a ceremony in central London on Tuesday night, Harvey acknowledged that the events of 9/11 had informed Let England Shake.

Motivated by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the album is a collection of dark, vivid, bloody songs about war and nationhood.

Harvey spent two-and-a-half years researching the subject and interviewing survivors.

The 41-year-old, who was the first female Mercury winner with 2001’s Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea, says she wanted to make “something meaningful... something that would last.”

As is the annual norm when Britain’s most hyped music accolade is announced, music lovers unite online to get mad at the judges and the award itself, criticising it for being a pointless prize.

This year was no exception, with many saying it’s a disgrace it didn’t go to Adele, whose latest album, 21, topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

They can say want they want, but the judges made the right call, for once awarding the prize to the best album on the shortlist.

Let’s be clear, Let England Shake didn’t win for its sales or for its creator having a very moving voice a la Adele - it won for its artistic merit.

Though not even a career best, it’s an awesome, daring and innovative album from one of Britain’s most single-minded and artistically-driven musicians.