PJ Harvey CD reviewed by Neil Ward

Music Reviews
PJ Harvey CD reviewed by Neil Ward
Oct 22, 2007, 05:14

PJ Harvey - White Chalk

PJ HARVEY White Chalk CD

At this point in the game, Polly Jean Harvey is a “made” woman, she can do whatever album she wants, and with her talents and her pedigree for making albums that entice a listener to want to listen to her, ninety-nine percent of the time, the album she records is the album we thought we wanted in the first place. Its what separates the pros from the amateurs.

In this case, our beloved heroine has made a seemingly very personal and frail, yet beautiful record. To give some perspective to those who haven't heard White Chalk, it is a new frontier of sorts for her. She has said that she learned to play the piano for this record and as a tribute to her talents, no one would have known otherwise. To these sensible ears, the music on White Chalk sounds like Jon Brion minus the circus (which is no slight to either party but only for the purposes of description). I am not inclined to recommend tracks for this record because it is one of those increasingly rare albums that should be taken as whole for proper perspective. The truly gratifying elements are the patented PJ Harvey vocal-harmonies and backing doubles as well as her signature phrasing style that one might not be convinced would work in an album so soft and fragile unless they have heard it from start to end.

In theory, this is a very successful new venture or perhaps it's just that rare happy anomaly in an artist's already eclectic and anomalous career. Or maybe PJ has been listening to a lot Cat Power of late. Regardless her motivation, the result is a very honest and diversified one-off that is executed so well, you come away believing that slow, piano driven music has always been her forte and musical strength, as opposed to her excellent guitar work and very rock and roll Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea or the seminal albeit quirky alternative offerings like Rid Of Me or Is This Desire. [Island]

-Neil Ward

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