Album Review: PJ Harvey-White Chalk

October 2, 2007 at 3:23 am Leave a comment

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PJ Harvey has returned to the forefront of modern alternative music with her most engaging release since 2000’s Stories From The City, Stories from the Sea. This outing is a decidedly more somber endeavor, as she has eschewed her traditional guitar based setup for a sparse, piano laden LP. Her beautifully haunting vocals flit about slow, meditative chord progressions to great effect in contrast to her often raw and abrasive delivery.

The only thing holding this album back from being truly great is its lack of any truly standout tracks. This is not to imply that the album is overrun with filler, at a trim 33 minutes it has been painstakingly sequenced so that each piece flows organically to the next. Taken out of context however, some tracks such as “Silence” and “Before Departure” lose power and focus. Other songs such as the title track “White Chalk”, and the stunning “Broken Harp”, serve as the highlights. It is within these selections that Polly Jean seems the most ethereal, when her lyrics seem to rise out of the song and hover over the listener like a fog. At these moments it becomes clear that this is an essential release for an essential performer.

Overall “White Chalk” is a subtle yet satisfying return to form for an artist who is not afraid to expand her body of work with an unexpected but memorable release. Look for the new album to hit stores October 2nd.

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Entry filed under: Album Reviews, Archive, News. Tags: , , .

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