Friday, March 21, 2008

P.J. Harvey - "White Chalk" CD

Polly Jean has laid her proverbial soul on the line before. Her early recordings were exorcisms of sorts, pulling all kinds of nasty demons from her psyche and turning them into rally cries for feminists and humanists alike. In the past 15 years, she's dabbled in pop (not to be confused with commercial) music, collaborated with Thom Yorke and Queens Of The Stone Age, and broken the mighty Nick Cave's heart (listen to his album The Boatman's Call for proof positive). She's eschewed a public life despite her growing celebrity, and this latest effort - perhaps her most personal, intimate, and mature yet, is an unsettling, ghostly apparition as sparse as anything she's done before. Harvey's lovely piano work dominates this set, and twisted broken little ballads like “Dear Darkness” details a growing unrest within. Whether she's doing it in a literary sense or pulling it directly from her experience is merely speculation, but White Chalk is packed with subtle and creepy undercurrents of murder, violence, and remorse. In fact, some of this, like the unsettling “Broken Harp,” or the disturbing “The Piano,” are difficult listens, as they seem to be far too personal and painful for public consumption. Polly is a true artist who gives her listeners a glimpse into a troubled world, and her powerful melding of word and sound will never go out of style. This is a world-class recording that will be revisited years from now. (Island)

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