PJ Harvey has never been shy when it comes to expressing her beliefs through music, and her latest video is no exception. “The Community of Hope,” the second single off her upcoming album, is a powerful tune that has attracted an equal amount of praise and controversy.
The song is inspired by Ward 7, an underdeveloped neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The video features numerous shots of the city, eventually closing in on a gospel choir crooning “They’re gonna put a Walmart here.” While the images are not particularly bleak, it is clear that Harvey is dissatisfied with the conditions of Ward 7. She refers to the neighborhood as “drug town,” and makes multiple references to the poor quality of the schools and health facilities.
“Community of Hope” is very fitting to the theme of her latest album, The Hope Six Demolition Project, which will be released April 15th. The album is based off her many travels around the world, what she has learned from these experiences and how they can be improved. The first single, “The Wheel,” was an beautiful song with a similar bluesy feel, and also featured footage from Harvey’s travels. It appears that her goal with The Hope Six Demolition Project is to make a statement, and she appears to be succeeding.
Of course, the song has also drawn a fair share of criticism, particularly from D.C politicians. Vince Gray, who is currently running for the Ward 7 city council seat, responded to “Community of Hope” by stating that he “will not dignify this inane composition with a response.” His campaign treasurer unfavorably compared Harvey to Piers Morgan, while Washington, D.C nonprofit The Community of Hope wrote an open letter criticizing her supposedly biased and incomplete view of the city. “By calling out this picture of poverty in terms of streets and buildings and not the humans who live here, have you not reduced their dignity?” the letter preaches, “Have you not trashed the place that, for better or worse, is home to people who are working to make it better, who take pride in their accomplishments.”
Despite the criticism, it seems that the video is achieving its purpose of bringing attention to the conditions in Ward 7. PJ Harvey is an incredibly talented artist who has never been afraid to let her art speak for her, and it seems that The Hope Six Demolition Project will be one of her most promising albums to date. Check out the track list for the new album as well as PJ Harvey’s upcoming tour dates here, and check out the video for “Community of Hope” below.