Pj Harvey - A Woman A Man Walked By (w/ John Parish)
It's been 12 years since Polly Jean Harvey and producer/multi-instrumentalist John Parish collaborated on their last album, Dance Hall At Louse Point. The duo have returned with a new collection of songs, A Woman A Man Walked By.
The new album sees Parish responsible for the bulk of the music and arrangements while Harvey pens the lyrics and sings.
Lyrically we don't see much wandering for Harvey. Ranging from the animalistic rambling narrative of "Pig Will Not" (complete with a barking Harvey) to the fuck you of the title track, the songs are dark explorations of all sorts of relationships gone wrong.
While the intensity and emotion of Harvey's vocals hasn't waned since her most recent solo albums, she does manage to better harness that energy. Gone are the shrieks that marred much of Uh Huh Her while maintaining the moodiness of White Chalk.
The real experiments on the record are in Parish's music. Swinging between standard alternative rock ("Black Hearted Love") to American Gothic ("Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen") to ethereal trippiness ("Passionless, Pointless"), he pulls Harvey along for the journey.
We do get some pleasant surprises along the way. "The Crow Knows Where All the Little Children Go" features a Middle Eastern influenced guitar line above processed Jesus & Mary Chain-style reverb. The guitar work on "Leaving California" is very spacey, while we're brought back down to Earth for a luau courtesy of a plucky ukulele on "The Solider".
The question that begs asking though is, 'how does it work as an album?". A little disjointed, but certainly not the least cohesive album of the year. If you're a PJ Harvey fan it's probably worth picking up the record.
User Reviews and CommentsLog In or Register to Rate Albums
Tell us why this album is great or sucks ass, or correct the reviewer. If you write enough quality reviews you may find yourself on the editorial staff.
Reviews have to be over 100 words, shorter ones are classed as comments.
on 2009-04-16 dscanland Said:
Damn, you beat me to A Woman A Man Walked by. I agree with your review, although I might've bumped up the score by 1/2. Good writing.
on 2009-04-15 dscanland Said:
Oh my, I'm really enjoying the PJ Harvey /John Parish effort. Nice return to form for Polly.