Friday, October 26, 2007
PJ Harvey's White Chalk
I recently picked up the new album from PJ Harvey and it is absolutely extraordinary. The British born Harvey has been one of my favorite artists since I first heard RID OF ME just after it came out in the early nineties, and her new album WHITE CHALK is among her finest work.
Harvey's music has mostly been guitar based since her first collection DRY, but the new record is largely piano based, and it adds yet another dimension to an already audacious and important talent.
WHITE CHALK is incredibly compelling, hypnotic and very moving during its eleven song running time. Harvey's abilities are often undervalued, but her work here again proves that she is among the most striking artists of the past two decades.
The sparse album is almost a one woman show but helping out are some of Harvey's usual players, including John Parish, Eric Drew Feldman and Jim White.
One thing that I continue to love about Harvey is that she still remembers the idea of the 'ten or eleven song, forty minute running time' album. She doesn't pad her stuff out, unlike most of today's artist, and her albums always so sound so concise and necessary. WHITE CHALK is no different, and her peers should take note that it isn't necessary to cram every second possible on the disc.
WHITE CHALK is, not surprisingly, selling poorly. In a modern music world filled with some of the most atrociously boring bands and singers possible, as artist like Harvey should be celebrated. WHITE CHALK is a lovely, heartfelt album that is already sounding like a modern classic to my ears. Give it a listen.
On a final note, I would like to say that I went out and bought this album in a store. I didn't download it (illegally or legally). I went out in a rather cold rain, walked in a store and bought a copy of the actual album. Driving home listening to it with the rain hitting against my window, I realized I would remember the trip and the first time I heard it. For a lot of people that might not be valuable, but the fact that I can hold a physical copy and still have it in case my computer crashes is reassuring. It feels real, and Polly Jean Harvey is among the most real artists we have. I can't imagine having her new album any other way...
POSTSCRIPT: Tim Lucas has posted a wonderful review of the album over at his Video Watchblog. I really enjoy reading Tim's music postings, and find them always evocative and enlightening. This one is no different, check it out.