The English singer-songwriter PJ Harvey has just released The Hope Six Demolition Project, her ninth studio album. Out on Island, the record follows Harvey’s Mercury Prize-winning Let England Shake. It was recorded in front of the public at London's Somerset House.
Influenced by Harvey's visits to Afghanistan, Kosovo and Washington DC with the photographer Seamus Murphy, The Hope Six Demolition Project is politically charged. It is released in tandem with The Hollow of the Hand, a book of poetry and images inspired by the same travels.
Centred around a five-piece band, the album features a wide array of additional musicians and vocalists, including a gospel choir. Its lyrics take a journalistic approach. The album's title refers to the US government's Hope VI programme, which was initiated in 1992 and acted as a form of mass gentrification of areas with run-down social housing.
Opening track ‘The Community of Hope’ directly refers to this project. It depicts a DC neighbourhood visited by Harvey and Murphy. One guide described the area as “drug-town” and its residents as “zombies”, descriptions that were included in the track and which caused controversy with local politicians.