Personally, I’m not a huge fan of what PJ Harvey has been doing together with John Parish. Not that it’s bad but since White Chalk I don’t really get along well with her records. I have a feeling that, although professional and perfect as ever, she somehow lost her initial power and rawness. And, still, it is very wrong of me to say “initial” cause PJ Harvey kept rocking, being raw, pure, emotional, dark, intense and continuously fascinating, for at least 12 years – since the release of her debut album Dry until Uh Huh Her at least.
Still, I have to admit that this is my personal view and many people actually consider White Chalk and A Woman a Man Walked By (with John Parish) one of the best of PJ Harvey’s albums.
The first song off Let England Shake has just been released (or, maybe, it leaked?). The album itself will be released on February 14th 2011 in the UK and February 15th 2010 in the US. Of course, I am waiting for it with all my lack of patience and with all the possible eagerness ever, since PJ is one of my absolutely favorite artists. But… yep, there are strings attached. The song Written on the Forehead reminds me more of PJ’s work with John Parish. Of White Chalk. Of her latest route she had decided to take in music. And I have a few doubts when it comes to the release of this album. I don’t want to whine like most of the fans who cannot understand that a musician, as any other normal human being, progresses in his/her life and changes ideas, musical style, the way of work. After all – music is not only art, it’s also craft. I actually do appreciate people who are not afraid to progress and change. Who are bold enough to take a step and do something that they have never done before. This is also why Radiohead is one of my top bands ever. Still… I’m just not sure if I like the way PJ Harvey chose. I absolutely love most of her recordings but this trend ends for me in 2004. And I am waiting and hoping that she will release an album which would be as intense as Dry, To Bring You My Love, Is This Desire?, Stories from the City, Stories from the Sea or Uh Huh Her. No, wait. I didn’t mention Rid of Me. Yes – that means I actually named every single LP she has ever recorded in the period from 1992 until 2004. What’s left? White Chalk and John Parish. And it’s not necessarily the fact that I have some kind of a problem with the poor guy. It’s just that… I agree to almost anything and I am fairly understanding when it comes to changing musical styles, ideas, songwriting, even themes that are important for one particular artist. The thing I hate though, is that even if we do switch to a somewhat musically “lighter” material, I still expect it to be as intense as it used to be. And, sorry, I just don’t find it in PJ anymore. It is as if since 2007 something burnt out. Not musically – she’s still professional and amazingly talented. But in terms of the… I don’t know… emotion? Rawness? Importance? Preciousness? Something that in the 1970’s you’d probably call the “vibe”? Hell. I don’t know. I just know I don’t like it anymore.
I am very happy to get a brand new PJ Harvey album in March. I am extremely impatient. But I’m also extremely afraid of a disappointment. And the song that leaked doesn’t make me feel better and doesn’t strengthen my hopes. Am I whining? Fuck yeah. Is it for a reason? Well. Judge on your own.