White Chalk

If isolation were an olympic sport Polly Jean Harvey would be a global threat. Her 2007 disc “White Chalk” would be the killer, ace up the sleeve routine that pushed her from contender to champion.

Harvey has always been raw but what sets her apart is her ability to reinvent herself with each album. Known more for full bodied guitar based rock, “White Chalk” transforms Harvey into an solitary woman, and we are merely voyeurs looking into her detached soul.

She employs minimalist piano and ghostly voice layering to create music that will dig its way deep into your head and lay eggs in your brain. Album closer “The Mountain” builds a simple piano line into an atmosphere of hysteria that would make David Lynch uneasy. It gets to the point where she isnt even screaming real words, but it doesnt matter. You somehow know what she’s saying, and it is far from pretty.

Self described as an introvert, Harvey keeps the listener at a distance, much like that despondent cousin you see sulking in the corner every Thanksgiving. Yet you cant help but be drawn in with lyrics like:

“The first tree will not blossom
The second will not grow
The third is almost fallen
Since you betrayed me so”

That said, the last thing Ms. Harvey wants is your sympathy.

If it’s overcast outside and you feel like staying in with the lights low and wearing sweatpants, PJ Harvey is right there with you. If you’re feeling let down by humanity, she’s there too at least for now. You never know, next album she might actually be happy.

–Josh Kruk

Image from laist.com