Tuesday, February 8, 2011

PJ Harvey...and why I love her.

I am very much a newbie when it comes to PJ Harvey. As in, White Chalk (2007) is the chapter I started in. Probably the earliest song I have is "You Said Something" which was released in 2000, and she's been around since the early 90's. Based on that, I probably don't have strong grounds to say a whole lot...but I'm going to anyway.

It's safe to say that "You Said Something" and any songs off the White Chalk album are like night and day. The former at least has a little bit of mainstream potential, but I can assure you White Chalk does not. Whatever the difference is, I can appreciate it. The material isn't better, it hasn't gotten worse, but it's changed. There's something to be said for artists who can maintain quality while still exploring completely different sounds and going places they've never gone before. For me, three words sum up her sound: unpredictable, bizarre, and genius. I love it.

White Chalk is quite possibly one of the most haunting records I've ever heard (not sure I can even think of any others that would fit in the "haunting" category), and the overall tone of the album is dark and melancholy (my fave!). Timing was good considering it was released in the month of October...it was probably my favorite album for fall of '07. A lot of piano involved, too, which we all know I love, and there's kind of an old timey simplicity to it all. Seriously, if had to give a visual, it's of some 1800's era woman in a haunted cabin in the backwoods of some crazy mountain town (Boone, perhaps?) writing freaky ass songs on her piano. Some of that visual might stem from the album cover. A sidenote: Harvey taught herself how to play the piano, specifically for creativity purposes related to this album. From Wikipedia: "In an interview in The Wire she explained "the great thing about learning a new instrument from scratch is that it [...] liberates your imagination.""

So that was an interesting, but good, starting point for me. Now I'm looking forward to her upcoming album, Let England Shake. I've only heard "Written On The Forehead" so far, but it sure sounds like this album will be yet another venture into new sound for Harvey, and I can't wait. Bring on the weirdness! Saw a comparison somewhere between the sound for this new song and The Cocteau Twins who I LOVE. Either way, I'm anticipating greatness.

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