For her new album White Chalk, P.J. Harvey offers us a totally different listening experience. With less emphasis on guitar-driven songs, Harvey, aided by producers Flood and John Parrish, and The Dirty Three’s Jim White, utilises piano, harp, and voice to create an album of haunting beauty and fragility. In 11 short, but highly effective (and affecting) tracks, Harvey once more takes us on a totally unique and personal sonic journey. This is Polly Harvey in reflective mood, and themes of loss, death and memory predominate throughout. Harvey offsets this ‘dark’ atmosphere with some of her most beautiful and tender vocals; her lament for her late grandmother, on ‘To Talk To You’, is almost heartbreaking in its honesty and longing. A worthy addition to Harvey’s impressive body of work, and easily one of the best albums of this year.
Mark Azzopardi is from Readings Hawthorn