“A Woman A Man Walked By”

I’ll start off with saying that I think PJ Harvey is one of the best female vocalists of all time, it may be a big statement but hear me out. There’s something that she has that not many singers have, the ability to change her voice to suit the song and on this album she’s achieved this again…

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PJ Harvey & John Parish - "A Woman A Man Walked By"

PJ Harvey & John Parish - "A Woman A Man Walked By"

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This is PJ Harvey’s ninth album and after the wonderful piano-styled album, ‘White Chalk’, this album signals a return to what she does best.

This is the second album that has come from the collaboration of John Parish and PJ Harvey, for this album, John Parish has written the music and PJ Harvey has written the vocals. The togetherness of the songs is amazing and is due to PJ Harvey’s wonderful and versatile voice.

The album is diverse and caters to a lot of differing genres, such as, folk, grunge and even pop. But through all the genres, there’s still that weirdness in both the music and the vocals that makes PJ Harvey’s music stand out from other musicians.

The album is not dissimilar to the band (or collaborations), The Desert Sessions (which has included musicians such as, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Ben Shepherd (Soundgarden), Mark Lanegan, Dave Grohl and even PJ Harvey herself, just to name a few). While the Desert Sessions releases are scattered with “joke” songs, “A Woman A Man Walked By” has more depth and is one of PJ Harvey’s better albums.

The opener, ‘Black Hearted Love’ is a grungy and is easily recognisable as a PJ Harvey song, which is a good thing, because although her diverse songs are good, the grunge-pop songs is what she does best. The sometimes noise-rock-esque guitar compliments the song greatly, but it’s PJ Harvey’s vocals that make the song good.

One of the most interesting songs on the album is ‘Pig Is Not’, because the vocals are not what you’d expect from the music, but somehow it works. PJ Harvey screams out “I Will NOT!” in a voice that will put chills down your spine, and it’s this weird combination of frenzied vocals and grunge-pop music that sets it apart from other albums. The song following, ‘Passionless Pointless’, is a different song all together and incorporates softer vocals and is a really beautiful love ballad.

The sometimes stark differences between the songs mean that the album is probably more of a collection of songs than anything else, but with the quality of songs on the album, I can’t complain at all.

Black Hearted Love

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~ by Michael Hodder on March 28, 2009.

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