Music Reviews

Album Review: PJ Harvey – ‘White Chalk’

By Jeff Swindoll Oct 1, 2007, 19:36 GMT

Album Review: PJ Harvey – ‘White Chalk’

This carnival ride to the netherworld of the soul is PJ Harvey\'s most dizzyingly radical work since the raw pulse and grind of her 1993 debut. It\'s also entirely different. Harvey\'s created an emotionally fractured Gothic fairytale that rides on her spare, tattered piano playing and her voice, which she turns into a fragile siren\'s call: high, airy, and imperiled, and made otherworldly by a labyrinth of echo. Instead of ...more

The album cover made me think of many things.  It was either a portrait of someone from Ray Bradbury’s “October country” or a vision of something out of a Sylvia Plath poem.  However, she could just be the human piece of chalk considering the album’s title.

Ironically, Polly Jean “PJ” Harvey was born in October so the former may actually be closer to the truth.  Harvey is an English singer/songwriter.  Her parents raised her on a steady steam of John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimi Hendrix and many others.  She also claims to draw inspiration from Russian folk music and Ennio Morricone.  I can definitely hear those latter influences in ‘White Chalk.’ 

“Grow Grow Grow” sounds like something I’d equate with Russian folk music and the lyrics almost sound like a sort of Russian fairytale possibly.  The album starts with the haunting melodies of “The Devil,” which is suitable for playing as you cruise through the October country (your car stirring up the leaves of fall). 

All of the songs do have an eerie quality that I found appealing.  She certainly sounds like a bit of an eccentric, which I can appreciate – the English also have a great appreciation of theirs as well, but she does have a stunning voice that will haunt your fall or winter evenings. 

‘Walk Chalk’ is now available at Amazon. Visit the music database for more information.

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